Meet the Man Behind the World’s Best Ad Agency Twitter Feed

@RGA's Chapin Clark explains how not to be boring

Ad agency Twitter feeds are, as a rule, about as interesting as a couple at Home Depot debating which paint chip would best match their duvet. One consistent exception has been R/GA, which serves up fun links and clever insights with a biting wit. The man behind the feed is Chapin Clark, evp and copywriting chief based in the agency's New York headquarters. We spoke with Clark about how he keeps @RGA's tweets interesting and whether he offends any peers or potential clients in the process. He also shares some advice for how agencies and brands can turn their Twitter feeds into something worth reading. Check out the Q&A below.

@RGA is probably the most consistently sarcastic and opinionated agency account out there, at least from a major shop. Has this ever raised any hackles among the execs or with clients?

I've only gotten positive feedback from clients. If there has been any hackle-raising, I have not been privy to it. I don't think I'd still be doing this if I were alienating clients. I can just imagine the conversation with [R/GA CEO] Bob [Greenberg]. "So let's see, this Twitter thing. It doesn't affect sales. Our paying clients hate you. But it's amusing three or four times a week! What do you think we should do here? …"

It's not for everyone. I'm pretty sure there are people within R/GA who don't like it, and I'm OK with that. Wanting to be liked by everyone is what's wrong with a lot of Twitter. However, I do prefer affection to contempt. If the majority of your audience loathes you, you're probably doing something wrong. If that were the case, I'd be looking to adjust my approach.

Why not just dump the daily tweeting on to low-level staffers or agency PR flacks?

That question perfectly captures what's wrong with a lot of corporate and brand accounts! I mean, yes, it's Twitter. We're not mapping the human genome. But it has emerged as a pretty important communications channel, and this is what we do.

If you were in a room speaking to an audience of thousands of people, you'd take that pretty seriously, right? I don't see how Twitter is all that different. If you're going to bother having an account, I think it's worth taking a bit of care to say something truly informative, or differentiated, or funny, or whatever. Whether it's a junior person or a senior person, someone in PR or creative, whoever it is should be someone you trust to do a good job and give it some love.

You're not above calling out other agencies or non-client brand work. How often do you get a response from the other side?

Well, that's something I try to do sparingly. I know how hard it can be to birth a project, and all the things that can happen along the way—things often beyond your control—to alter the final product. I also have praise for other brands' and agencies' work. But sometimes I see something that is so perplexing or appalling that I feel I can't not say something.

A lot of the critical things I tweet are not aimed at singling anyone out but at ourselves collectively as an industry, including R/GA. Like, can we please be a little more thoughtful, a little more suspicious of received wisdom and groupthink? We're all guilty of it. But I think every time we use the word "innovation" for something that makes ordering a pizza easier, or reflexively refer to the simple doing of something as a "hack," we die a little.

What do you think should be the primary goal of an agency's Twitter feed?

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