Clow: ‘Next Revolution’ Is Here

LOS ANGELES Artists are taking over the Internet from technologists in a dynamic “revolution,” said renowned cd Lee Clow in his keynote speech today at Adweek‘s Creative Conference Mashup 2007.

In a presentation called “The Next Creative Revolution,” the chief creative officer of TBWA Worldwide said that an increasingly complex and creatively challenging media environment means that agencies’ “product” would no longer be defined as advertising, but as “media arts. Everything we do now is media. It’s how people come to a decision about a brand.” (TBWA\Chiat\Day in mid-2006 formed a Media Arts Lab to handle the Apple account.)

Clow said the change in the industry represents the first revolution since the 1960s (led by creatives such as Bill Bernbach), and would see artists working in various media rise to prominence as never before. In that “brave new world of conversation, not monologue,” agencies have to “accept the consequences” of potentially negative feedback on campaigns, but should be buoyed by the increased opportunities, he said.

Clow showed various examples of how TBWA offices worldwide have gone beyond traditional media to craft effective communications programs.

For example, he showed a Japanese World Cup Soccer-themed campaign for Adidas that included live one-on-one soccer contests conducted by players suspended on wires. He also showed footage of a Berlin train station that had been painted in the style of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, but with a celestial soccer match taking place above.

He demonstrated how an “old medium like a poster” could be transformed into a major component of a campaign when the New Zealand All Blacks team mixed their own blood into the ink. The resulting posters, tagged “Bonded in blood,” sold “tens of thousands” of copies, Clow said.

“Television won’t go away, but hopefully dumb TV will,” said Clow. As an example of smarter TV, he offered a Skittles commercial from TBWA\C\D in New York and Playa del Rey, Calif., that promoted later spots that ran exclusively online.

He also showed a $300,000 push for Sony PlayStation’s Shadow of the Colossus game that became a Web phenomenon via seeding the central idea of “giantology” months in advance of its release. An effort for Starburst used the invention of a “little lad dance” for berries and cream to garner over 1 million hits and amateur imitations of the spot, though Clow added, “I’m not sure I understand why.”

“Brands are being given a whole new relevance by ultimately being understood from any touch point,” Clow said. “We have to harness everything available.” Clow said he expected his agency to be producing everything from “films for Sundance” to “TV shows for the networks.”

Adweek‘s Creative Conference continues through tomorrow at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Click here for a related story on Clow’s plan for a Media Arts Festival.