Four Questions for Howard Draft

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Howard Draft’s job recently got a whole lot bigger. Draft is now chairman-CEO of Draft FCB Group, a merger of Interpublic Group general agency Foote, Cone & Belding and direct agency Draft into one entity. 

  Howard Draft

Draft spoke with BtoB Senior Reporter Carol Krol in an e-mail exchange about his vision for the newly combined entity, his definition of what makes marketing “direct” and the importance of metrics.

BtoB: What’s the greatest advantage for clients as a result of the Draft-FCB merger?

Draft: There are multiple advantages. Creatively, it’s about the “big idea”—even if the best way to execute that “big idea” is

small. It’s not about automatically creating a 30-second spot and a print campaign to match. It’s about drilling down to your target and determining the best way to reach them. That may include a national brand awareness campaign on TV, but also coffee cups and dry cleaning bags in a local community.

Because we offer a full suite of services, Draft FCB will be media-, discipline-, and channel-agnostic. We can offer best-in-class branding, advertising, direct, CRM, promotions, retail, digital and sponsorships—but with no inherent preference for any one of these. Whatever works best, we’ll recommend to the client. And because of Draft’s direct heritage, we will continue to focus on metrics and accountability. From a logistical standpoint, this wide spectrum of offerings will all be offered through one P&L. Clients and prospects continue to tell us they want access to multiple disciplines through a single door—and we’re planning to deliver that.

BtoB: Do you have a broader definition today of what exactly constitutes direct marketing? Are newer channels such as e-mail and search considered direct response vehicles?

Draft: I’ve always had a very broad definition of “direct.” When people still thought direct was mail, we were developing direct response TV spots that were driving sales and proving it far better than pure brand awareness spots. When other companies were jumping on the dot-com bandwagon and spinning off digital agencies, we deliberately kept ours in-house, because digital, including search, is a direct channel. Technology especially promises to help direct continue to expand exponentially, allowing real one-to-one marketing via cell phones and PDAs, for example. Direct to me is anything that allows you to demonstrate ROI to clients.

BtoB: How do marketing services fit into a typical integrated campaign at a time when traditional media channels are becoming less and less effective?

Draft: Marketing services are no longer simply an afterthought in an overall campaign. They’re vital. In some cases, these disciplines can lead the overall marketing efforts, especially in categories like telecom.

These days, marketing success comes from developing a creative platform based on genuine consumer behavior, then executing that strategy across whatever media make the most sense. If that’s print, great; if that’s events and grassroots efforts, great. Much of what we used to call “traditional media” channels is losing efficacy. TV doesn’t have the reach it once did, for example. But then you have to ask, what’s traditional these days? Digital has been around for a while now. Is a banner campaign really that groundbreaking? Yet these efforts can be extremely effective from a direct standpoint. It depends on strategy and how the creative is executed across selected media.

BtoB: What is the current role of direct mail in an ever-increasing array of media channels available to marketers?

Draft: Mail is just one more piece of the marketing puzzle, and we do a lot of mail efforts for clients as part of an overall campaign. I don’t think the role of direct mail should be overlooked. Mail packs a powerful punch. It engages, it excites. It helps build strong, lasting relationships. In word and deed, consumers have made it abundantly clear that the best way to capture their attention and loyalty is through invitation, not intrusion. With mail, consumers decide when they want to take in that information. They want messaging on their time, and on their schedule. Who doesn’t appreciate that?

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