Rob Price, cofounder and executive creative director of Eleven, speaks with DMN about what it means to be a creative today.
Q: Is it hard to find creatives with both a traditional and digital background?
A: Yes, but it’s getting easier in that more forms of marketing are considered acceptable and desirable by the best creatives. There’s no shortage now of creatives who love doing TV commercials and major print, but who also love getting into a meaty digital assignment and doing the right kind of direct. I resent hearing about above vs. below the line marketing. The line is blurring, if not erased all together. Good creatives are willing to be thrown into the deep end to gain knowledge on things they’re not familiar with.
Q: What does it mean to be an integrated marketing agency?
A: We chose not to be an agency of specialists. We might recruit specialists, but we’ll make them generalists. We have some designers very skilled at digital, but there’s not one who hasn’t worked on traditional or at least brainstormed concepts for a traditional campaign. If you a have a copywriter working 90% of the time on one medium or discipline, that person is siloed. If teams work across all channels the same way a client does, then you’re integrated.
Q: How has creativity’s role evolved?
A: I don’t consider myself a direct marketing specialist. I’m a creative who is fascinated with direct marketing. I cut my teeth reading David Ogilvy, and I feel like the creative gap between brand and direct is closing. That’s encouraging and exciting. I wish I was just starting out.
Q: Why was there such a gap?
A: It used to be that anyone who could pull off a great brand campaign had little interest in traditional direct marketing, and I asked “Why?” Ogilvy would not have pegged direct as second-class citizen among marketing forms. An old-school veteran of direct marketing sat me down once and told me the No. 1 factor for success is the quality of list and No. 2 is the offer. The fact that creative was down the line is what was principally responsible for lazy creative work in direct. Advertisers are asking for more from their direct marketing than just clicks now and recognize every point of contact has something to do with both brand and direct.
Q: Will that gap ever close completely?
A: We’ll all have to retire before those notions disappear. Even though many of us now understand how brand and direct intersect, ultimately when this industry is populated and run by people who came up in this age, these debates will go away.
Q: How tough is it to maintain consistency of messaging across channels?
A: It’s not very hard if you meet a few requirements. For one, the client has to care about it. Sometimes they buy into the notion that certain channels are where important business is happening and others are less important. That mindset spells doom. Second, the agency has to care. Even among agencies claiming to be committed to integrated marketing, some have deep personal biases for what they want to do and those interests get the attention. Third, no matter how large the brand assignment is, there has to be one person in the agency responsible for messaging across all channels.