Glickman's first move was to make the process of creating the new global unit's logo an open experiment, enlisting Crowdspring to crowdsource the design. We spoke to him about the move to BBH, his goals for the Labs and more.
What attracted you to join BBH Labs?
I was a partner at Suitmen and things were going well, but BBH found me and when I saw the job description I thought it fit me perfectly. The thing that really interested me was when Ben Malbon said the idea was to think as radically as possible. Obviously you always hear that, but these guys say they are and do seem very serious about it. The one thing I was a bit tentative about is that you tend to hear people talk about exploring new spaces and trying new things a lot but I think we're going to be allowed to actually walk the walk with BBH Labs.
Another thing that was part of the job description was "don't be afraid to fail, as long as you learn from those failings." And that's what we see as a goal. The Crowdspring thing is a perfect example of that. I've got my point of view of it, but that doesn't mean it's correct and we're just trying something new to see the results.
How does the Labs work within the agency structure?
We're a separate unit and operate, to a large extent, outside the company. But the lessons we learn from our projects will be brought inside the company. But it's all very fresh. I just got my desk so we're working on these things as we go right now.
What lessons from your past experience will help you most at BBH Labs?
The one thing I learned at Tokion is that if you want to realize big ideas you have to work with progressive brands to do it, so that's why I became more interested in the advertising space. To have a media or communications company right now, you have to be able to do technology, marketing and content equally well. To me, those are the three ingredients. The lines are blurring between what's advertising and what's entertainment, so it's about creating a stage with those three parts. I (also) think data management, media buying and placement, so to speak, is becoming a very creative space and we are interested to explore this space to its fullest.
How does the current economy affect a new agency unit with a mandate based on creative experimentation?
Well, people say necessity is the mother of invention. I'm somewhat new to the advertising industry. I come from publishing which felt the pain long before advertising so everyone in media and communications is going through this. Clearly this recession is speeding up a process that may have taken 10 years, which is unfortunate in a lot of ways because people are losing their jobs. The positive aspect of it is that once this is said and done, the advertising industry will still be strong, it's just going to look different. That's what we're setting out to do. No one has the answers yet but we're trying to explore what it might look like.