Industry Leaders Debate ‘What’s Next’

LOS ANGELES Three industry leaders examined the state of the industry and predicted “What’s Next” for the advertising business in a panel discussion here on Wednesday that concluded Adweek‘s Creative Conference: Mashup 2007.

Aimee Reker, svp, global director of search at IPG’s McCann Worldgroup, Lori Schwartz, svp, director of IPG’s Emerging Media Lab and Greg Andersen, head of engagement planning at Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, discussed trends with Adweek creative editor Eleftheria Parpis.

Panelists cited several new interactive technologies that present “exciting opportunities” for marketers, despite potential privacy and intrusion issues.

Andersen said he’d like to see “SMS on T-shirts” (SMS is the text-messaging protocol) and favors “fixed wireless” efforts, such as broadcasting continuous promos from storefronts to passersby equipped with Blue Tooth-enabled cellphones. Schwartz said such engagement could become reminiscent of the media-saturated future world of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, but without the frightening aspect of people being tracked for nefarious purposes.

Each panelist offered recommendations on how new media could be introduced to reluctant or indifferent agencies and their clients.

Reker said agencies should consider “education mentoring and safe havens for learning” and create “structure pilot projects to create an environment where it’s safe to fail. It’s hard to do a great idea on a deadline.”

Schwartz stressed the need to put money aside at the start of campaigns to support experimentation and exploration. Reker said that she had gotten creative directors excited about new technologies by showing them how it relates to their “books” and the performance of their campaigns.

Several notes of caution were sounded.

Andersen said one of the biggest mistakes agencies make is “being enamored of everything new.” That theme was echoed by Schwartz, who lamented that agencies often feel they have to create podcasts, on-demand clips and mobile elements “when there are other tactical choices” to consider. Often in such cases, the big ideas driving campaigns get lost in the rush to use new technologies, she said.

When asked for examples of good uses of technology, Schwartz touted SMS “for CRM that ties into loyalty programs.” Andersen mentioned mobile as “great for branding” and lauded a Nike cellphone program that targeted consumers in New York’s Times Square.