Campaign Brief's Heather Jacobs reviews a top weekend.
Co-creation, trust and collaboration were the catchcries of the Caxtons on the weekend, something Ant Hatton of George Patterson Y&R Melbourne put into practise when he got his mate from Clemenger Sydney to wax his balls live on stage in an excruciating act which saw him win the talent quest with a score of 1000 and something. Apart from the painful display of bodily parts and a stolen golf cart by two allegedly drunk creatives at 5am Eastern Standard Time, there was very little indecent behaviour at the Caxtons, which was held at the gorgeous Byron on Byron Resort this weekend.
In between ‘fucks’ - this expletive was used a record number of times during the speeches - clients, media directors and even researchers said they want to work more closely with creatives to create better work.
And unlike the last time The Commonwealth Bank sent a marketing director to the Caxtons with Graham Ford slagging off creatives by saying they were out of step with the times, Mark Buckman was the picture of decorum and came through the weekend unscathed and even with a few new friends.
International guest of honour Jeff Goodby (left) of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, which this year snagged the bank’s advertising account, opened his speech with a tongue in cheek peace offering by revealing the phone number for the marketing director of Elizabeth Arden inviting Australian agencies to try to win the account, preferably before the launch of the next Britney Spears perfume. The laid-back Californian with his trademark ponytail even apologised for the behaviour of George W Bush before wooing the crowd with his amazing work for clients including Sprint, Hyundai, Comcast, Rolling Rock and the Got Milk campaign. As part of a complete restructure of the agency to allow it to create work for the digital world, creatives at the agency were told they needed to learn to do everything from TVCS to designing web sites and if they didn’t like it they could get their books together and start interviewing. While some did leave, the agency has been in expansion mode rapidly hiring people outside the traditional sphere including stand up comics, lawyers, rappers and videographers as part of the restructure instigated by co-managing director Derek Robson who analysed the business, only to find the staff didn’t reflect the skill base required for a digitally led agency.
It doesn’t mean they didn’t stuff up some traditional jobs, admitted Goodby, but clearly they are doing something right, considering the agency won $US2 billion worth of new business over a four week period. Two billion dollars! (See next issue of Campaign Brief for full story).
The funniest speech of the weekend was that of Colenso BBDO's Richard Maddocks (right), the incoming creative chief for Clemenger BDDO Sydney, who gave a rollicking account of his top ten advertising agencies. Sorry Jeff, it’s not GS&P but places like McMahon and Tate, the agency in Bewitched, to Warren in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and D&D Advertising in Melrose Place. Maddocks has a starring role in each of these agencies, he has an affair from Samantha of Bewitched and gets her to use her magical powers to make all the planners disappear and find all the people who write nasty things about him on the Campaign Brief blog site. He is best mates with Warren’s Matthew McConaughey and calls him to profess his love, he cracks a brief for the VP of D&D Amanda Woodward (played by Heather Lochlear) and unsuccessfully propositions her, teaching him one of advertising’s most valuable lessons - rejection. While advertising is about 80% rejection, he said his first boss said for him it would be 95%.
Speaking of constant rejection, researcher George Stent of Stent Research & Planning used his time at the podium to tell creatives that although he loves and respects creatives, they don’t seem to return the sentiment. He gave the top 10 tips on how to get work through research including flattering the researchers, bribing them with hints about a huge project in the pipeline if only the research turns up favourably, 9am debriefs, using intimidation tactics like hinting how much easier it is to sack the researchers than change the agency and re-frame the responses so the one person in the room who liked it is an opinion leader.
Belinda Rowe, CEO of Zenith Optimedia and the new head of the AFA, also called for increased co-operation, this time between media and creative agencies, saying the two would never come back together in the same agency so it was best to accept this and get on with making it work as best you can. Research with creative directors on what they think of media directors came up with some enlightened insights as “they interbreed and create acne-free children”, or “it’s all about free tickets and goodie bags”.
Instead, Rowe says, ‘co-creation’ is at the centre of a new business model for the advertising industry with the turf war between the two proving detrimental. As a starting point she suggests breaking down the silos and getting creative people involved in the MFA and media people invited to the Caxtons. This was the first time she’s been invited and she loved it.
Matt Eastwood (left), national CD of DDB Sydney, encouraged creatives to look beyond the obvious and have fun with storytelling, taking the audience through several great examples of branded content he worked on while he was in the States, including a series of short films called Meet the Lucky Ones for the car brand Mercury (which helped sell 378 cars in its first four weeks) and the Conde Nast TV channel for Jetblue. His most recent brainchild is to create a TV network to be shown on the plasma screens in McDonald’s stores. However, what will most be remembered about his talk was that he loves cheese flavoured Goldfish biscuits and that somewhere in LA is a proposal for a pilot TV show called Crackers based around a cheddar flavoured animated fish called Fin, a pizza flavoured fish called Linda and a timid pretzel flavoured fish called Gilbert interlaced with moral messages for children about good behaviour which should be mandatory viewing for all future Caxton delegates.
In other speeches Mick Hunter, creative parter of Brain Surgery, Sydney, enlightened us with a great film from the archives of JWT about a client systematically stuffing up a print advert with lines like “I’m not a copywriter but…” and shared what shits him about clients (basically everything); Dennis Koutoulogenis of BMF revealed a Facebook page he’d created for William Caxton and pleaded for people to understand the power of words, calling on the might of the Greek empire.
Rebecca Carrasco (right), creative partner of Colman Rasic Carrasco, talked about The Matrix-esque theory she has about reality, something she calls ‘the program’ which regulates our behaviour and something the best advertising executives step outside of to create great work; Annabel Crabb, political journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald dished the dirt on the politicians she’s covering for the election (sorry can’t share, it’s libellous), but the final word goes to David Thomason, general manager marketing, Meat and Livestock Australia, who said that sometimes there’s going to be an ad that bombs and he accepts that – because if you don’t get the occasional lame duck it means you are not trying hard enough or taking enough risks.
If only everyone could be so understanding, but that hippie-like sanguine view of the world where everyone works together and loves each other may make perfect sense in Byron Bay but will probably disappear as quickly as lamb chops on a BBQ on Australia Day, with January now the top selling month for lamb thanks to a fast talking Mr Sam Kekovich.