The boys on stage at OgilvyOne’s big digital convergence at Jazz at Lincoln Center yesterday looked suspiciously like they had wandered in from Internet World circa 1999…earnest young West Coast geeks, with big ideas and even bigger peer influence, making fortunes crafted from bits, bytes, and blogs.
OgilvyOne, the digital arm of the big ad agency, had managed to wrangle a red-carpet’s worth of Web 2.0 talent to dazzle its 700 clients and guests at the private affair: YouTube Co-founder and CEO Chad Hurley, he of the brushed-back hair and recently pumped-up wallet; grizzled relationship advisor Shawn Gold, whose day job is VP of Content for MySpace; Tom Gerace, founder and CEO of Gather.com; Stewart Butterfield, Co-founder of Flickr; and Nick Grouf, co-founder of Spot Runner, among them.
While exuberant about their companies' prospects, these young entrepreneurs weren’t spouting the same business-model –free tripe that got their older brethren (and all of us trusting investors) in so much trouble six years ago. While conceding that most of their businesses were still struggling to make money, they nonetheless offered — under none-too-gentle probing by Old Media rep Michael Wolff — some insights into what marketers should know in attempting to navigate this techtonic media shift.
The most entertaining bits:
Best reason why your high school’s Most Popular kids should buff their resumes: According to Gold, the appeal of MySpace is that it offers a creative way for users to connect with each other. The only way, then, for a marketer to ingratiate itself with the site’s audience is to enhance that value by offering tools that cater to users’ desire for attention, belonging, knowledge, and access. His advice on how to do that? "Ogilvy marketers should hire people who were popular in high school who have those skills. "
Most alarming (for marketers) spin on Andy Warhol's aphorism: Noting that his favorite use of Flickr was to check out new pictures of his toddler nephew three times a day, Butterfield offered this piercing insight: "In the network culture, everyone isn’t famous for 15 minutes, they’re famous to 15 people." "And how do we make money?" a marketer behind me whispered to his friend.
Most embarrassing moment for Ogilvy staffers: When Gather’s Gerace, explaining why marketers need to pay attention to their customers’ opinions, noted, "Consumers can now talk to one another. They can set up "Yourbrandisterrible.com" web sites. If you say, "Coke adds life," someone is sure to write in that they know somebody who drank Coke all their life and died young." (Coke is one of the agency’s big accounts)
Most productive way geezer marketers can use Youtube: "The site’s a good place to test concepts, " says Hurley. "Think of it as a video sandbox." But, he warned, don’t get too uppity with those production values. Gritty is better. "Pixellated content is more authentic."
Best spin on why Ogilvy clients should let go of their inner accountants and get with the chaotic, brave new digital world: "I know ROI is on your mind, but the value of this is incalculable," Shelly Lazarus, Ogilvy CEO, said. "Control is so 20th Century." To break through the noise of a million air guitarists, lip syncing Chinese students, and lonely girl poseurs, content needs to be very very very creative, she says.
And I bet you can guess her punchline: "When it comes to brand engagement, we are the pros."