Lubars Urges Web Heads to Think Beyond Tech

NEW YORK Speaking to an overflow audience at the opening session of the Ad:Tech conference here, David Lubars confessed to the Internet faithful: “I don’t care what the medium is. I’m not a technologist.”

At a time when digital media is sometimes painted as ready to make “old media” obsolete—and along with it the agencies that excelled in the world of 30-second spot—the BBDO chairman and chief creative officer said he does not fret about technology, which is in a perpetual state of flux. Instead, he worries about agencies creating work that makes people run in the opposite direction—the effect of about 95 percent of the ad messages produced.

What’s more, Lubars sees a danger in the proliferation of new forms of media, from social networks to video games, just spawning more places for advertisers to paste generic billboards and commercials.

“It worries me we’re going to piss people off with too many crappy ads,” he said.

A prime example: product placement, which Lubars finds “one of the worst things going on these days.” He sees the same infiltration happening to video games, resulting in further alienating consumers.

Instead, the BBDO creative chief urges his team to forget checking off the boxes of creating a set number of executions for various media and instead focus on a core insight that can be translated in several forms of media. At Fallon, for instance, BMW Films sprang not from the pursuit of proving the Internet can be used for high-end, long-form creative, but from the consumer insight that 90 percent of BMW buyers researched their car online. The execution flowed from that.

The Omnicom Group agency took similar approaches to developing so-called “digisodes” for Snickers, starring the Black Eyed Peas, and a MySpace-fueled animated push for the Dodge Calibur.

“If you have a great insight, you can do a lot of things,” Lubars said.