Former Macy’s exec talks responsible disruption

As consumer interest becomes more fragmented and more attention shifts to the digital realm, advertisers have to step up to the plate and innovate, according to panelists at yesterday’s keynote at ad:tech New York. Brad Jakeman, former EVP of creative strategy at Macy’s Inc., a panel member, spoke on what “innovation” can mean; and had critiques for Apple.

“I think in this age of mass collaboration, it is up to bigger
companies to do the right thing and control it, because mass
collaboration is allowing people to form armies against big companies,”
said Jakeman.
“Controlling the tools, like Apple has done, gives the marketer more
power. The iPhone would have been disruptive if I didn’t have to use
AT&T and I didn’t have to pay $2000 when I went to the UK.”

Jason Hirschhorn, president of Sling Media Entertainment Group, had harsh words for the music industry as well.

“The reason that the music business failed is that the music industry thought that they were in the CD business and not in the selling content business.” he said.

What else should be avoided? If you are Windex, don’t create Facebook widgets. There may be backlash.

“If you give them a bad implementation of something new, that is going to put you months over the divide, Hirschhorn said.

Even though mass collaboration has changed disruption through social media such as Facebook and wikis, brands may need to keep some control.

According to Jakeman, advertisers looking to innovate should return to basics.

“Consumers respond to ideas,” he said. “The answer isn’t, ædon’t do anything,’ the answer is to focus on the idea and your collective knowledge as a professional advertiser to create the right disruption.”

Some tangible examples of these good ideas include Nike partnering with Apple to bringing the running experience back to the brand, Virgin Airlines figuring out how to get people to the airport and Showtime using interactive prefab commercials that let consumers make their own and send it to their friends. Jason Hirschhorn saw his name in blood on the wall in a viral video and it worked.

Perhaps innovation is also about other fundamentals – good products and services.

“Research and development is the lifeblood of America and we cannot forget that, even though as marketers we tend to overlook this,” said Paul Woolmington, founding partner of Naked Communications.

Identifying what the disruptive tools are is another way to innovate, according to panelists.

“I think that if ad agencies are going to tap their digital potential, then digital is going to have to be integrated into all of the channels,” Woolmington added.

What industries have a need for disruptions?

“I would love to disrupt government services,” Hirschhorn added. And, when John Fine – moderator of the panel and media columnist for Business Week – cracked jokes about terrorism, Hirschhorn’s refined his point.

“I look at these things like anything else,” he said. “When I have to do things like getting a passport, if they took the same view as Virgin did or as Bloomberg did with New York, if you trying to innovate it has to be about the experience.”

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