Deutsch’s 15 Big Ideas

NEW YORK As the keynote speaker of Panasonic’s “Ideas for Life” Advertising Week lecture series, Donny Deutsch was asked to forecast the future of advertising, but the CEO of Interpublic Group’s Deutsch declared that nobody knows what the future holds.

During an hour-long address at the Museum of Television and Radio as part of Advertising Week, Deutsch said the only assurances the industry provides are good times and bad, new technologies to adapt to, consolidations and that “great ideas will always rule the day.”

To that end, Deutsch decided to speak about why he loves the industry, in which he began his career as an account executive at Ogilvy & Mather and ended up building his father’s agency into the ninth largest shop in the U.S.

Here are a few of his favorite things:

1. “More than any other medium, advertising is a mirror to who we are as a culture.” Deutsch said that even political advertising, which he considers the worst creatively, is a reflection of where societies are in their political evolution.

2. “You’re always one day or even one minute away from greatness.” No matter how many punches you take, you can always rebound quickly, he insisted. There’s always that new business call you’ve been waiting for or that campaign that really takes off.

3. “New technology makes advertising the center of the universe.” Every time somebody sounds the death knell for advertising, in particular the 30-second TV spot, Deutsch reminds himself that those in charge of the marketing budgets for any entity will determine how and if ideas are executed, be it an hour-long TV show or the use of talent. Talent agencies, movie studios, production companies are all getting into the act.

4. “The beautiful clarity.” At its core, advertising is a simple human idea or human story well told, Deutsch said.

5. “The orgasm of the heart.” Deutsch describes this as the culmination of an agency team’s hard work over many weeks, in which the client calls to say they’ve nailed it.

6. “This industry roots for the underdog.” When a new agency starts up, everyone wants it to succeed because it replenishes and re-energizes the industry.

7. “There are no rules in this industry.” There may be fundamentals and some constant values, but if anyone tells you there are rules to advertising, leave that place and go work somewhere else, Deutsch advised.

8. “Magic can come from the new kid on the block.” The most junior person at the agency can participate in what Deutsch calls “the democracy of ideas.”

9. “Anybody can start an advertising agency.” All you need is a back room, a phone and a few people with a dream, Deutsch said.

10. “Chicks rock.” Deutsch, who said he grew up a chauvinist, considers women superior to men in business, adding that it is a conclusion he formed on the job. (Four of his managing partners in New York are women.)

11. “It’s the only communication form that brings you back to touchstones in your life.” People respond to advertising the way they respond to music, especially those ads and popular songs that shaped their youth, Deutsch said. “Music takes you back to places in your life and so do ads.”

12. “There are no geniuses.” Deutsch considers this tenet very empowering because “nobody’s got the code figured out.” Nobody in the industry is trying to cure cancer or figure out the solution to terrorism; those problems are for geniuses to solve. “If there’s a genius spending his life in advertising, there’s something wrong with the world,” Deutsch declared.

13. “It’s silly. I love the fact that there’s a Mr. Peanut.”

14. “It’s the hardest creative medium.” What needs to be accomplished in a 30-second message is more challenging that what needs to be accomplished in a two-hour film, Deutsch said.

15. “You can get your own TV show and talk to porn stars.” Which is exactly what Deutsch has done on his CNBC talk show, The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch.