SoCal Ad Pros Dissect Creativity

LA QUINTA, CALIF. A panel featuring top agency executives highlighted the final day of the annual conference program of the Los Angeles Advertising Agencies Association and the Ad Club of Los Angeles on Saturday.

The Conde Nast Media Group-sponsored panel discussion included David Angelo, chairman, CCO of independent davidandgoliath, Los Angeles; Kate Bristow, evp, director of strategic planning at M&C Saatchi, Venice, Calif.; Monica Karo, chief strategy officer of Omnicom’s OMD North America, Playa del Rey, Calif.; Mike Sheldon, managing partner, general manager of Interpublic Group’s Deutsch/LA, Marina del Rey, Calif.; and Nigel Williams, evp, ecd of The Cimarron Group, Hollywood. The panel was moderated by Jack Feuer, Adweek‘s national news editor.

The panel discussed originality in the Los Angeles ad community. Angelo suggested that L.A. had lost its creative luster due to a dearth of local “visionaries,” and that 20th Century Fox Studios’ hiring of MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky represented an ominous shift to Miami as the new creative hotbed.

“Los Angeles has become known as a great place to live but not a great place to work,” Angelo said. “L.A. has a reputation as just a car-agency town. But it is missing the big ideas.”

Williams said that Los Angeles agencies had to find better coordination between media and creative ideas. Karo agreed, emphasizing the “development and testing of non-TV ideas,” but wondered, “If it’s not about TV commercials, why do all pitches still begin and end there?”

Bristow went further, declaring “agencies are archaic.” She said strategic planning would offer the “opportunities for great thinking.”

Sheldon said that the test of the agencies would not be their creative brilliance but how they ultimately drive client business. He added that it was a testament to the strength of L.A. agencies that many accounts are generated from outside the local area.

The conference program concluded with Newsweek senior editor and veteran film critic David Ansen, who discussed product placement in movies with the magazine’s West Coast bureau chief, David Jefferson. In addition to sharing preview notes on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Ansen talked about how marketing strategies impact studio release patterns, as well as advertising to academy members during the Oscar-nominating season.