Betting on innovation

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DMNews talks with Andrew Robertson, president/CEO, BBDO

Andrew Robertson

Andrew Robertson, chairman of Proximity Worldwide and president/CEO of BBDO Worldwide discusses the agency's recent growth, its future and the role of consumer-generated content. Click here to watch.

BBDO's Robertson talks about the impetus behind the agency's growth strategy

Q: What is the key idea behind BBDO's slogan, “the work, the work, the work”?

A: Consumers have more ability than ever to switch from things that aren't interesting and valuable to them. Unless you can create really compelling work, the rest doesn't count. You have to iden­tify the right target audience to work out what the most persuasive content or strat­egy is, but that isn't enough — unless you create an experience that is sufficiently engaging and valuable.

Q: What is your definition of innovation?

A: I think the most innovative products or campaigns are where you take some­thing that isn't new but do it so much better and faster than anyone. Innovation isn't inventing something entirely new, but when you find what consumers are already doing and do it much better and cheaper and faster.

Q: What your views on social media?

A: I am a big fan of it because consumers are. Great social media have made it really easy for people to do what they've always done, which is to stay connected. Agen­cies have to be responsible in how we try to play in that arena because it was set up for people — a brand can't just jump in with both clumsy boots.

Q: Tell me more about Proximity and how it fits in with the rest of BBDO.

A: Proximity is young. We are building Proximity to differentiate itself from its competitors based on the quality of its work. We're also building Proximity to be a kind of flat-world organization. We're building it to be great at using the power of networks. We believe in the power of networks to grow local business because between us we know more than any one of us does.

Q: How do you plan to grow in the US?

A: The US has been the last frontier. We are now opening up in an unconventional way. We have guys that are creating cells in Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta. And, in the past few weeks, we've decided that At­mosphere, which was an interactive agency focused on advertising, is going to be the New York part of the Proximity network. In each case, these new cells bring something to the party, and they benefit from what everybody else brings.

Q: Why did you decide to expand in the US right now?

A: Evidence that we could make it work. We've got nothing to lose and everything to play for. We have a magnificent client base to work with and the capability and experience to draw on of the rest of the Proximity world. We have some very good creative and strategic talent. If we were a very big bus, expanding it would be difficult — but for us it's all upside to grow from, and I'm pretty bullish about [our potential] growth rate.

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