If John Livengood, the new executive creative director at Omnicom's DDB Seattle, gets his way, the shop's revolution will be televised—as well as printed, plastered on billboards, e-mailed, snail-mailed and whatever else it takes to be heard.
Livengood, 41, was promoted to the office's top creative post last week. He takes over from Fred Hammerquist, who left last month after four years in the role. (Hammerquist said he and a partner expect to launch a Seattle boutique by mid-April.)
Livengood joined DDB in 1999 and was previously ecd of the shop's direct and online units. His work in those disciplines, along with a client-side stint in marketing at Seafirst Bank and time at Hunt Marketing Group in Seattle, which he founded in 1992, has led him to rethink traditional advertising techniques, he said.
"My whole perspective is, creatives need to change the questions we ask," he said. Instead of asking clients what they want in terms of campaign components, Livengood suggested, "ask them what they want people to do. Not, 'Do you want a print campaign?'… But 'What's the business problem here? What's the challenge?' "
Livengood said he has found this "problem-solving first, tactics second" method to be a productive and "fundamentally different way to drive [consumer] behavior." Getting messages noticed and acted upon relies on a strong combination of creative, account planning, strategic and production efforts, he said, and it's harder than ever to achieve.
A Seattle native who majored in studio art at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., Livengood entered the ad industry as a copywriter. He enjoys living just a few minutes from work, which allows him to get home in time to read bedtime stories to his two small children—even after "some pretty long days."