Archive for March, 2008

Interview: HR rep at Digital Media arm of a global ad agency
March 31, 2008

AdBridge caught up with this Recruiter to talk about interdepartmental collaboration and how his HR department is adapting to the generation gap in the workplace:

On collaboration… 

  •  It depends on the client and the holding company more than anything else. Two agencies will struggle to collaborate if they are owned by competing holding companies or if the client has multiple people managing multiple agency relationships.
  • Internal collaboration between departments is tricky because employees are over-extended. When departments fail to collaborate, everyone loses, but it happens mostly because people are too pre-occupied with their own projects and deadlines to be able to contribute to a colleague’s as well. Territory battles are a reality, but stress is the bigger factor. 

On Millennials…

  •  They tend to do well in digital because their co-workers are closer in age.
  • HR departments really are actively working to adapt agencies to generational differences 
  •  Millennials want everything too soon. They expect to get promoted quickly because they perform their duties well, but don’t understand the other factors at play.
  •  Millennials tend to “top out quickly” because they lack management skills and have a hard time delegating day-to-day responsibilities. Promotions are about putting employees in charge of people, not just projects.
  • Ad agencies are structured with intermediary job titles (Assistant Planner > Planner > Supervisor > Director) so that employees can gradually prepare for management roles. Hierarchy is an unfortunate side-effect of that model.

Solution No. 1- A Creative Mind
March 28, 2008

In continuation of my previous discussion, “creativity” might seem like something to pass off on the “creative” department, but with a “360” or “Connections” mindset creativity can be facilitated by:

  1. Generalists—those that spread the gaps and cross departmental/structural barriers. Generalists are not as concerned about, “Whose job is it?” as “Who can do the best work?” and “With whom else?”
  2. Cross-departmental programs that allow people to work/train in multiple (all?) departments for a holistic perspective on the business- there are multiple agencies that do this well, but its up-front costs often limit it to the select.
  3. The “Creatively Minded”—they have possibly never deliberately dwelt on cross-department integration, but have the freedom within their place of work to generate ideas and solve problems.

Can you see examples of these in your agency? What are the Pro’s and Con’s? The third solution, the “creatively minded” seems hard to define, but David Armano at says that creativity is no longer a one-dimensional mindset only for artists, but rather a “four-dimensional type of creativity that blends logical thinking with creative problem solving.” This person would use analytical, expressive, curious and sensual qualities. The result, Armano says, is a holistic approach. Holistic. When I think about all the characteristics of the advertising industry, holistic is just not one of them. In fact, advertisers have become very good at specialization, in other words, fragmentation.

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, fleshes out a concept of “T-shaped People”. T-shaped people have their main function, such as an engineer or technical designer, but are

“so empathetic that they can bridge out into other skills, […] and do them well. They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need.”

Basically, start with the end in mind. Caveat: T-minded people don’t have a defined territory—others can feel threatened when they wear many hats. Also, T-thinking doesn’t mean one person does everything; Armano says, “It’s about being curious, empathetic, analytical, insightful and expressive all at the same time.”

-Karen Brooks

Part 1: Generation Y Agency Playing in a Big Pond
March 26, 2008

About a year ago, a peer of mine, Carlos Casas, and his brother decided to start their own advertising agency in Austin, TX. What resources did they have?
Ideas, ambition and business know-how.

Carlos is a Hispanic 22 year-old advertising major at the University of Texas at Austin: College of Communications, His brother, Englebert (yes his real name) is 32 years-old. Carlos brings a combination of business sense, a love-hate relationship with advertising, and a passion for creative and ideas. While Carlos mettles in a little bit of everything within the agency, Englebert takes care of more of the day-to-day operations: ordering, purchasing print, etc. as well as the finances of the agency. Together they began Azul & Green Advertising; a small start-up shop by a Generation X & Y state-of-mind.

About two months ago, Cecelia Stewart and I had a conversation with Joel Greenberg of “Friends Talking Podcast” about how differently Boomers, Generation X and Ys work. Through speaking with Joel, we realized the ‘gap’ that exists between these generations as they work together (or try too!). The Baby Boomer generation is all about getting things organized, divvying up the work to be done, assuring everyone is doing their part. Today in the advertising industry, these are the executives running the agencies. Generation X are a few of the start up companies, trying to do what the big agencies do with little money. They don’t care how big or small they are, they know they can do it better. The Generation Y agencies have to be the most passionate and collaborative group because they have to be. They don’t care whether they start with a dime in the bank, they are mostly concerned about getting everyone’s input and working together.

This is an introduction into the conversation of “Gaps Between Generation Collaboration”. Over the next few posts, I will be discussing an interview I had with Carlos Casas about Azul & Green (A&G), and his experiences diving into an industry before he’s even received a degree in it. The most fascinating thing about A&G is that it is made up of about five people, five clients, and they are making due.

“We are groups of overlapping packets: we are ‘independents’ that can work together, but not always under the same roof.” Carlos Casas

-Jennifer Hallabough

The Bridge between Brand and Utility
March 26, 2008

I am consuming as much as possible on branded utility and here is the understanding I have established so far.

Branded utility is a new way for a brand to become a habitual part of a consumer’s life. If done well, a person resonates with the brand and appreciates the functionality. The consumer has the opportunity to interact with the brand, as oppose to feeling an invasion of privacy. Skeptics and pessimists doubt and claim that it is a brand’s way of taking over your life, but the average American is impressed with the way it “makes life easier.”

It is important to remember if you provide a utility, the consumer has an expectation level that must be filled. If the function does not meet expectations, it reflects negatively on your brand. Therefore branded utility must be a executed both well and strategically. A really great example of branded utility is the Nike+ partnership with Apple. As a runner, I have the opportunity to track my stats online. Each time I do so, I am interacting with both Apple and Nike. The Epsonality campaign is also a great example.

In the 1970s the University of Texas neglected the aesthetic architectural component in favor of functionality. Consider the form of a company a brand, and the utility a function the ad business has done the opposite of UT. Many times we are developing campaigns that toot our product’s horn, but neglect to offer function for our audience.

As always I am a student, and looking to learn from you. So please, point out the holes in my logic, or point me in the direction of other good materials to read.

The Interview Series
March 25, 2008

The Adbridge contributors are students. We are advertising students who want to understand the industry and where it’s going, but we are keenly aware of the fact that our perspective is limited because we do not work in the industry. To add to our thoughts, we have begun interviewing professionals from all corners, disciplines, and parties of the industry.

From here on out you will start to see posts of our notes from these interviews, so that you can equally benefit from what we learned. Some of the people we talked to have requested that we keep them anonymous in posts, so that they can speak frankly. We plan on respecting their wishes, and hope that you will too.

If you’re in the industry and would like to speak your mind on The Adbridge, please e-mail us at to set up an interview.

Be Mindful- Creativity in the Workplace
March 21, 2008


Originally uploaded by ceceliastewart

Traditionally the final product of advertising has been produced as a compilation of separate components, piece-by-piece. The result is a divided product—because the process is inherently divided. This is partially due to the varied set of people, their skills and the processes need to produce an advertising campaign.

The upside—very specialized subsets of advertising allow for quality work within their field. The downside—an industry detrimentally fractured into departments, seniority and job titles.

With the emergence of the internet and all things digital, the lines between creative, planning and media departments have blurred. And the need for integration of talents is not only possible but necessary for success in these uncharted waters. As the waters become more and more trafficked, as seen in the proliferation of information, entertainment and advertising, clutter becomes a mind numbing force again the consumer—another call for intellectual innovation.

The more involved businesses become with the internet and the more distant and fractured the masses become, the more necessary problem solving (i.e. creativity) becomes. David Armano, VP of ExperienceDesign with Critical Mass, says that a creative mind dose not divide the marketing, advertising, technological and consumer behavior it is “capable of creating customer experiences which provide competitive advantage in a fast moving world where customers are increasingly calling the shots.” He visually depicts how the traditional view of what makes someone “creative” is limited and limiting. His view of a creative mind incorporates a very holistic set of skills all necessary in the business process.

View of the Creative Mind
-Karen Brooks

Assembly lines for advertising are oiled by the people who like structure in an industry that is supposed to be about change.
March 18, 2008

1) Agencies in the advertising industry have become strictly structured producers.

Ideas are divided into parts with media, creative, account services/planning taking a piece. Communication between each group occurs only when they need to, telling each other just what they need to know to do their job and complete their work. What often lacks in this communication is explaining the reasoning, the vision, and the conceptual thought behind the decisions.

2) Advertising Campaigns are completed in a linear process, because it’s efficient

The overall advertising campaign is completed in one of two ways, both a linear state-of-mind. The first linear state is when a percentage of the work is completed by one department and then passed along to the next; thinly building on the previous portion. Even worse, as mentioned before, is the second linear state where work is completed, with a lack of communication between, at the same time with limited intersections with other tools.

3) If you have ever worked in agencies that seem to use a lot of the same tools over and over again, and you find it odd that they seem stuck in their ways—they might suffer from ‘Assemblage’.

The physical and intellectual separation by departmentalization and using tools that people are comfortable with using have made advertising an assembly line: ‘Get the work done in the quickest way possible’—instead of a way of thinking or procedure that has the most optimization for the client. The ‘assembly line’ method affects agencies by creating a system that produces similar work for different clients. ‘Do what is familiar, do what is easy and get it out the door.’

4) There is only ownership of work and no ownership of thought.

Not to say that the day to day operations of dealing with representatives of print and broadcast companies do not take a talent, professional intellect and instinct, but when the actual strategy for the client is left to a very small amount of people, from the outside perspective—everyone else is just filling out the paperwork.

5) We need to talk. We need to exchange. We need to drop the assembly line attitude.

People can be so concerned with getting the work out so efficiently that they form a structure, which restricts the flow of ideas, the development of ideas and makes it quite difficult to get your thinking outside of the box—because they do not have time to get out.


“The Marketing Company Communications Disconnect: And Why Ad Agencies Are Viewed as Laborers Rather Than Architects”

By A. Louis Rubin, Advertising Age
Published: June 06, 2005

Commentary by A. Louis Rubin
It’s the sad truth that no one in the communications business wants to acknowledge or admit but the bottom line is that few communications professionals are invited into the inner sanctorum of marketers’ strategy and planning sessions on the executive committee level.