“Technology is not enough. It’s married with the liberal arts and the humanities.”



The digital revolution has transformed our industry. No one would argue that fact. But to say that advertising is dying or that if you are not a technology-driven company, you’re done, is bullshit. Advertising is evolving, like it has always been evolving. What it needs is the next Creative Revolution to really change the game.

We keep treating digital as a new medium, and that holds us back. It’s not a medium; digital is an infrastructure. Everything in the world is now connected. There is no lack of information. People are aware of everything and in real time.

If we want to be successful in the future, we have to build a network around our clients’ brands that understands digital. And this network is not related to social networks. It means using the digital infrastructure to bring substance and relevant touch points to people, not by promising them your brand is great, but by adding real value to their lives.

This insight is nothing new. It took shape back in 1958 with the inventors of the Creative Revolution.

That’s the nice thing about being at DDB. We were the center of the Creative Revolution, which began in New York, and have the heritage of Bill Bernbach at our core. He believed that advertising is not only about informing people. Advertising is about involving them emotionally. He taught us that creativity doesn’t mean you are delivering an advertising idea; creativity means using your talent and all your skills to solve the business problems of your clients. The original presentation Bill Bernbach gave to Volkswagen back in 1958 was titled: How to Sell a Nazi Car to Jewish Manhattan. Eighty percent of this presentation was not about an advertising idea. It was about understanding the business of a client and trying to find the most innovative solution to their problem. Back then, in 1958, it was an advertising campaign, with classics ads like “Think Small” and “Lemon.”

Our industry, from the last 60 years and into the next 50 years, is the business of making things relevant. It’s about solving a problem, giving meaning to something, adding something to people’s lives.

Last year saw a number of fresh ideas and new solutions. Mini Maps by DDB Paris used technology as an infrastructure to deliver a global brand experience. For Volkswagen, DDB Mexico reached people using mobile technology with a fresh, new solution. DDB Brazil developed a whole new retail experience for their client C&A that used technology to make people’s shopping decisions easier. And DDB Warszawa found a fun and relevant touch point for McDonald’s at the central train station that brought value to travelers. Outside of the DDB network, RGA’s Nike Fuel Band and American Express Small Business Saturday by CP+B and Digitas are other great examples of creating relevance for a brand and in people’s lives.

Steve Jobs said “…technology alone is not enough – it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results…” And that’s something that we possess in our industry. We are the industry that understands human nature. We have a special talent for solving problems in fresh, new ways. Using technology, not as another medium, but as a powerful new tool, and combining it with both our artistic talents and the deepest respect towards human beings, we can change the world.

These changes are happening everywhere, from the streets of São Paulo to the roads of Mumbai, from Singapore to Stockholm, London to Sydney. When we look to the things that inspire our creativity across the globe, the next great “Lemon” that sparks the next major revolution of our industry won’t be far behind. Maybe even before 2020.