3 Tips For Building An Ad Business Of The Future

Legendary ad man John Hegarty offers some advice for advertisers and marketers who are trying to navigate the future of the business.


Legendary ad man John Hegarty, cofounder and worldwide creative director of international agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, knows something about building great brands. He’s behind the extremely successful Keep Walking campaign for Johnnie Walker and Audi’s "Vorsprung Durch Technik" tagline, and has just released his first book, Hegarty on Advertising, recounting his nearly 50 years in advertising.

This Friday in Cannes, in addition to being awarded with the first-ever Lion of St. Mark in honor of his contribution to creativity in communications, Hegarty will deliver a rallying cry to clients about what it takes to considerably grow a brand’s fortune.

Here are some of his thoughts on building a future-friendly business.

Differentiate Yourself For Growth
The reality of modern business is that expecting growth of 3% to 5% is no longer sufficient, says Hegarty, with expectations of 8% to 10% growth becoming the norm. "To get that kind of growth brands can’t do the same kind of things as everyone else. Growth needs space," he says. "And to do that, you need difference. The problem is, at the moment, brands are doing the exact opposite of what they need to be doing." He points to the allure of trackable online media as a culprit. "If everything is measured the same then everything will look the same."

All Brands Are Empowered To Succeed
When success depended solely on big media spends, the big moneyed clients had the upper hand. Not so today. "The best thing is that a small brand can have as much impact as a large one," he says, advocating for what he calls a "Super Bowl to super-social" strategy—one that is most effective when the power and immediacy of social media is supported by and responds to the blockbuster Super Bowl-type ad.

Find Ways To Own The Product
BBH recently launched both a business development arm, Zag, and a venture capital division called Black Sheep. The reason, says Hegarty, was to shift from a solely creative service-based business to an IP-based one. While he says it’s not for every agency, and certainly won’t turn flagging fortunes overnight, it is a way for agencies to apply creative and strategic thinking to new products or burgeoning companies that could benefit from branding expertise.

Read more coverage of the Cannes Lions 2011

[Image: Flickr user marcomagrini]

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  • Stuart Sanders

    Great boiler plate thoughts... Not. Missed a few key points in my
    view, and it’s a question of scope. The article didn’t do justice to the scope of what’s
    happening to the world we used to know.

    We help our agency clients prepare for the future by
    taking five actions - my boiler plate thoughts for the night:


    1. Narrow the focus and become experts in one area and
    treat your market place as world-wide.

    2. Get your brand right, and make sure it’s in-step with
    where your best prospects want to go.

    3. Learn how to learn. Never let your agency stop
    learning by doing more partnering and collaborating. And make that learning
    process an agency priority.

    4. Learn how to relate because by relating the new things
    we see to past things that were familiar, we can handle the speed of change
    coming at us much better.

    5. Lastly, learn how to choose, because there are too
    many options being pushed at us to take advantage of any more than a few, so
    “choose well, Grasshopper.”

    Stuart Sanders
    Blog: http://sandersconsulting.com/n...

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/newbusiness...