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.

3 Tips For Building An Ad Business Of The Future


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]

About the author

Rae Ann Fera is a writer with Co.Create whose specialty is covering the media, marketing, creative advertising, digital technology and design fields. She was formerly the editor of ad industry publication Boards and has written for Huffington Post and Marketing Magazine.