Which is a pretty terrifying prospect for all those copywriters and art directors who think the best solutions to their clients’ problems lie in their own heads.
But now Interpublic’s McCann Erickson is trying to import the appliance of science that has revolutionised media planning and buying to creative and account handling with the appointment in the US of four new ‘chief technology catalysts.’ One such is Lori Scwhartz (pictured), former head of Interpublic’s media lab, who says: “What matters is how technologies are changing the way consumers experience brands.” The others are Mark Jackson in Europe (formerly UK digital client services director), Gregory Armshaw in Asia Pacific and Glauco Yasuda in Latin America.
Among other things this seems to be about tracking consumers through stores (or online presumably), delivering various messages at appropriate points. Schwartz herself is walking the floor with clients at the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where she might well meet her old media lab chums saying roughly the same thing.
Schwartz says the key element in all this is “narrative”: helping the agency’s creative, strategy and account management teams use consumer technologies to tell stories on behalf of their clients’ brands. Ultimately the CTC’s advice is intended to be another revenue stream for McCann as well as a way of energising people in the agency.
She continues: “We are challenging our world to evolve. In addition to working with the talent we already know, I want everyone out there to call me and say, I have an idea, I want to work with you…I want to be part of what you’re building.”
It’s a neat enough idea beneath the spin although you can never be sure with these things; are they game-changing initiatives that really will improve client communications or just another way of trying to persuade the aforementioned clients that the agency is on top of the technology game?