Q&A: Nicholas Platt, Rapp Los Angeles

Nicholas Platt, executive creative director at Rapp Los Angeles, talks about global marketing and teaching clients to take risk:

Q: What should be the main objective for any creative director?

A: I think the job of the creative is to elicit a response but not at the
detriment of brand. If you have a 10% response rate, that is great, but you want to leave those other 90% with at least a positive feeling about the brand you are promoting. 

Q: What are some creative campaigns that have caught your eye lately?

A: All the Old Spice work, as well as the Allstate “Mayhem” ads, in which a guy in a suit serves as a distraction for drivers who wreck their car as a result. Those two have a level of creativity that any creative professional would be proud of. 

Q: Do any verticals lend themselves more to taking creative liberty than others?

A: I think automotive does. It’s a high-ticket item and more an expression of yourself, so a creative person has more latitude to have fun with it. You can be witty and relevant in a vertical like pharma, but not as much as you can in a vertical like auto or apparel. I think that’s the challenge, though. A good creative should be able to unlock the truth of a brand into a meaningful experience.

Q: You’ve worked in London. European campaigns are often riskier than American campaigns. Why is this? Does our overabundance of data stifle domestic creative efforts?

A: I think it is more a personality thing. Europeans would bite your right arm off to get the data we have here. I think the American way is more about scale and having a scientific approach. Europeans are more outgoing and interested in, perhaps not so much shock tactics, but definitely flippancy in what is happening in the marketing realm. 

Q: How tough is it to convince clients to go outside the lines with a campaign?

A: It can be challenging. In any vertical, from financial services to nonprofit, clients don’t want to be the first ones to take that step. More tentative clients will be second once they see that it works for others. There is a moment of bravery in which an agency needs to convince clients to be risk-takers. 

Q: Is it the agency’s job to make recommendations to a client about jumping into social media marketing?

A: Absolutely. The agency is the guide, but we have to be careful not to make it seem like we’re shoving our view of the world down their throats just for financial gain. There is a certain amount of honesty that needs to go along with making those recommendations. 

Q: What clients have used social in a meaningful way?

A: We have had good results for Toyota after the recall as far as harnessing people’s opinions. We don’t really see it in financial services, which is a good benchmark of the differences between the two verticals. There is a certain level of sensitivity about money, as opposed to buying a car. Age-old barriers and sensitivities still exist even though it’s a new medium.

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