TBWA\Chiat\Day New York CEO on the Future of Super Bowl Advertising

Rob Schwartz says agencies will have to do more with less


Current gig CEO of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York

Previous gig Global creative president, TBWA Worldwide

Twitter @Schwartzie14

Age 50

Adweek: Will the Super Bowl always be advertising's crown jewel?

Rob Schwartz: This is the last stand of nonfragmented media moments when we have the world watching. Awards shows are done. Between the Oscars and Grammys, there's a little bit [of influence], but the Super Bowl remains the biggest in terms of scale. Yet, of the 50-some spots that will run during the Super Bowl, we will only end up talking about three to five of them.

How far ahead of time does your team begin working on Super Bowl campaigns?

If the game is January 28th, then the planning [for next year's campaign] starts on the 29th. The first step is postmortem, and then you start dreaming for the brand. Another thing that's happening is that we're starting to concept the ads in March and begin producing them by the summer. If you're AB InBev, you may produce 10 spots before the Super Bowl just to see what catches fire before you run three.

You've worked on a few Super Bowl spots. How have the criteria for a successful Super Bowl campaign changed in recent years?

The measurements of success have changed in terms of proliferation. First and foremost is the USA Today Ad Meter, then YouTube's AdBlitz, then maybe the Radian6 social media test. Then you have the guys who come in and do business analytics, the Millward Brown tests, earned media, general number of shares, likes and tweets, et cetera. When you're on the morning shows the following day, you can also count some of those eyeballs.

Generally speaking, how has TBWA's New York office succeeded where other agencies' expansion efforts have not?

I'm a New Yorker; I grew up on the East Side. When I hear, "We have a satellite office in New York," that doesn't work. These agencies aren't treating New York like a universe unto itself. I left here pre-9/11, and I came back [from Los Angeles] to a bigger, better, more amazing city than I could ever imagine. The kids here are so ambitious that they have energized me.

Will the New York office play a more prominent role in the network moving forward?

I was charged by global CEO Troy Ruhanen with making New York a center of strategic and creative excellence. Our positioning is: "New York hustle, global muscle." We're an iconic agency with the reach, power and resources of a global network, and we work with global clients. The way we operate is via a simple model I call BAYsics: brand first, agency second and your individual agenda last. People say, "What's in it for me?" but we try to create a culture where people say, "What's in it for the clients?"

What does TBWA\Chiat\Day New York have planned for the coming year?

Starting last year, we tried to go back to the soul of this company: an ambitious network that wants to create work that makes a dent in the universe on behalf of the brands we serve. That was Jay Chiat's vision. He also wanted to have an amazing New York office, and everyone here wants to honor that. 2015 was about getting our house in order and drafting the right players [like new global creative president Chris Garbutt]. We did the groundwork and won eight new clients, so now we have the opportunities. 2016 will be the year of the creative product.

How has running TBWA's New York operations for a year differed from your last position?

I've been working in the TBWA network for more than 17 years now, and I'm trying to remind people that they're part of a special organization with a great legacy. We just want to deliver what we promise—an amazing creative product.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 1 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.