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Naturally curious leaders in the industry wonder where the consumer market is heading and where their fortunes lie. With critical issues like the effect of new media, agency growth areas and emerging cultural trends having direct impact on their business, these leaders responded to an informal e-mail survey. Here are excerpts from their responses:

Growth of new media

Advertising Age: What impact will the growth of new media have on an agency's ability to build brands and effectively communicate brand messages to a mass audience?

Keith Reinhard, chairman-CEO, DDB Worldwide:

A huge impact. I'm with those who say the Internet will do to advertising what the telephone did to letter writing.

The new media will help us in many ways if we embrace its technology and exploit its potential. First of all, it will free up the mass media -- especially TV, magazines and outdoor -- to do a better job at what they do best. They will no longer need to impart detailed information; consumers will go to a brand's Web site for that. So the messages and images in the mass media can focus on creating a brand's aura in a way that invites the consumer to learn more about the brand.

Another way the new media will help us is by promoting and facilitating positive word of mouth among a brand's users. What the users of a brand say to each other electronically on the Web will be more important than what we say in advertising. This gives new meaning to [Bill] Bernbach's observation that, "Word of mouth is the most powerful medium of all." Of course, if a brand doesn't keep its promise, that word of mouth is likely to be negative, which means the new media will keep us all honest.

Digital TV will let us do amazing things with regard to targeting. We'll be able to place commercials by individual set-tops. Within the same TV show, the kids will see one commercial on the set in their room, while parents see a different one aimed at them.

The agency of the future

AA: What will the ad agency of 10 or 15 years from now look like?

Allen Rosenshine, chairman-CEO, BBDO Worldwide:

Their managements will be more and more international in makeup as they continue to globalize along with their largest clients.

Brand marketing consultancy will be at least an integrated resource, if not the actual hub of agency/client contact.

There will be greater connectivity between agency and client, utilizing the capabilities of computer networking -- more information on more areas of mutual concern flowing faster and more often.

The research and planning functions will depend more and more on direct communication with consumers and information feedback from new technologies.

The winning agencies (and there will be fewer, not more) will have managers who truly understand brands and can truly create integration of brand communications. Buying the resources proves nothing. Applying them is everything.

The winning agencies will have trained themselves -- and hopefully their clients -- that what, how and why the consumer thinks and acts is the most important input; and the most important output is the brand message that motivates them to react and respond.

Strategic planning and creative execution for the Internet will comprise a far greater percentage of agency activity than the old guard like me can viscerally appreciate and a far smaller part of total brand communications than we hear from the hype of today's children of the dot-coms.

John J. Dooner Jr., chairman-CEO, McCann-Erickson Worldwide:

The biggest mistake people are making in looking at the marketing communications revolution is thinking that it means clients want something called integrated marketing communications instead of advertising.

That's not the case. Advertising has a unique power in the marketing communications mix relative to message control, reach, cost-efficiency and so on. Advertising is still vital and growing in importance. What is changing is the role of advertising in the total picture. Clients now want their marketing communications firm or even their ad agency to become the masters of linking and managing all of their efforts to the greatest effect. In other words, they want the power of advertising plus the connected power of all other individual marketing communications disciplines.

So the ad agency of the year 2010 will still have to be expert at creating the best possible advertising it can, but it will also need to have greater capability in linking, at least strategically if not also executionally, to other forms of marketing communications to deliver a total sales-driven, brand-building program.

Creating clarity in ads

AA: What will be the main challenge facing companies that provide marketing and communications services in the next decade?

Bob Schmetterer, chairman-CEO, Euro RSCG Worldwide:

There seems little question that the main challenge facing our industry is the redefinition of the "marketing communications services" industry itself. We need to understand that the structural and fundamental shifts taking place in the very nature of business, the nature of marketing and the nature of media on a global basis are creating great need and great opportunity. But, like all fundamental change points, clarity will not be perfect until it's too late for many to act. Our challenge is to create enough clarity to act in very tangible and real ways.

Chris Jones, CEO, J. Walter Thompson Co.:

The landscape of the early part of the 21st century looks to be both challenging and exciting, marked by new terrain and continual discovery. What a time to be in advertising! The main challenge: managing the shifts in the rapidly moving terrain, taking what we do best -- which is to build powerful brands over time -- and adapting to the change and convergence in the world around us. As we reshape our industry, companies have to focus on basic fundamentals, develop a precise understanding of their values and goals and then implement those goals with speed, flexibility and innovation.

From the consumers' experience, the worlds of entertainment, sports, the Internet, marketing and media are snowballing, building critical mass, overwhelming people with messages that intensify daily life. To reach the consumer, advertising is having to develop new business models that call for lightning-fast ways to pierce the galaxy of messages. What we thought was "clutter" on the TV screen is already looking like cause for nostalgia.

Mr. Rosenshine:

We must devote all our resources and energy to the quality of the work we ultimately provide. There are too many communications today -- in both traditional and new media -- that are insipid, inane, unintelligible and just downright dumb. This undermines everything else we do and makes everything else we do ultimately irrelevant. As we like to say at BBDO, the three most important things that define us are the work, the work and the work. In the absence of great work, nothing else matters.

Role of consultants

Michael Greenlees, president-CEO, TBWA Worldwide:

The advertising industry's humble beginnings as media "agents" have saddled the business with an extraordinary inferiority complex. They have also left it with a nomenclature that neither describes accurately the kind of businesses the best of us believe we're in nor gives credit for the real contribution we make to our clients' business.

The best agencies are in the business of more than just advertising. More even than communication. Rather, we are in the business of transforming a company's future through the power of an idea. An idea that defines a brand vision.

Those of us who seek to define brand architecture in terms of integration miss the point. Our prime skill, the one that truly has the power to change a company's future, is our ability to see and define future possibilities -- and then to articulate them in a way that provides an engine for growth that touches not only consumers, but every part of the client organization. I know no consultants who can do this.

The future of direct response

Howard Draft, chairman, Draft Worldwide:

The 20th century belonged to image building, with direct marketing playing second fiddle. Marketers have been judged by their national campaigns, their unique selling propositions and their icons.

That's understandable; customer loyalty programs have never been quite as sexy as Super Bowl spots.

But the Internet and database technologies are causing an undeniable shift in that paradigm, one that will continue to take hold in the next century. Businesses and consumers will learn to take full advantage of the newfound power interactive marketing provides. They'll demand immediate one-on-one service, and loyalty to your brand will depend upon your ability to deliver it.

The best marketers of the next century will understand that power. And, ultimately, they'll be judged on the quality of their database and its ability to help maintain brand loyalty. Making consumers laugh just won't seem quite as important anymore.

Agencies as 'Marketects'

Bob Kuperman, president-CEO of the Americas, TBWA Worldwide:

As we look into 2000, it is becoming more and more clear that "marketecture" is the next leap, and everything short of it will fall behind.

What is marketecture, and what does a "marketect" do? Like a true architect, the marketect fully immerses an individual in the experience he or she creates, where every line, every note and every segment is carefully designed to "pull" the consumer into the brand. Along with the fragmentation of media and everything else we've heard so much about, the overriding fact as we move into the next century is that consumer marketing is moving from push to pull.

Push can be defined as big, mass media campaigns that blitz everyone with the message. This creates awareness and attracts consumers to the brand.

A creative outlook

Ted Sann, co-CEO and chief creative officer, BBDO Worldwide, New York:

I see puzzling new business pitches

I see unfathomable client reviews

I see inexplicable award shows (we lose)

I see brilliant award shows (we win)

I see new campaigns due in two weeks

I see great new ideas

I see the same old lousy ideas

I see people who do work

I see people whose work is talk

I see myself in a beige Members Only windbreaker sitting in an aluminum chair in front of a building in Rego Park, reading Creativity upside down and not caring.

Mark Fenske, creative director, the Bomb Factory:

I predict (with apologies for indulging a predilection toward darkness):

* The global ad agency format will be adopted by Hollywood as a more productive and profitable setup than the studio system now in place for creating the huge amount of content new systems of delivery are making it possible for consumers to consume.

* Voice-overs will become automated. At first this will be driven by a desire to cut costs in paying talent. But later, as the technology advances, we will create voices from gigantic sampling libraries teamed with superfast computers that will enable us to style a created voice in detail, sync it to picture, vary it by audience and translate it into languages all over the world. Some of these automated voices will become celebrities and will cost more to use than others.

* Sentences will disappear. Instead, a "consumerspeak" will form in which catchphrases of the day are interwoven with music and sound effects to create non-specific "brand experiences."

* "The Simpsons" will still be the best show on TV.

* The billboards in Times Square will move. And they will talk. And we'll think it's cool at first, but then it'll seem oppressive and people will complain, but it'll be too late. The still, painted board will seem too old-fashioned then and only be used to introduce Woody Allen movies.

* A kiss will still be a kiss. And a sigh a sigh. But fewer of us will behave as if we believe this. Fed a diet of completely image-based culture on TV, movies, etc. (and this is not an indictment of art directors, photographers or filmmakers -- the written word is as powerful an image creator as any image), most of us will find it difficult to resist the attempts companies will make to feed our thirst for those images. There will be editorials written (and ignored) about the triumph of image over content, just as there are now.

* There will be too many people going to advertising schools. But they won't be denied admission because their tuition is profitable to the school.

* The consumer will get whatever he or she wants. Consumers (and this will come more and more to mean exclusively high-income people, as the gulf between haves and have-nots grows) will want to experience more than just a surfeit of expensive luxury products. As terrorism and increased violent rebellion from economic have-nots spills further afield from its home looking for TV coverage, those wishing to live in "clean, safe neighborhoods" will find themselves cut off from larger and larger portions of the globe at the same time that they are becoming increasingly aware of it on TV. These consumers will be willing to buy experiences of the world as technology increases its ability to provide a semblance of them. To meet this desire at high profit margins, virtual reality-like pods will be created and marketed to provide a nearly limitless array of experiences. Batting against Greg Maddux in the World Series, taking a canal barge through Germany, cooking a Provencal dinner, having sex with a famous porn star, you name it. Advertising will be created that imagines these different worlds the consumer can visit. (Someone will use the phrase "nothing has ever not happened to you.") In time these "adventures" will be corrupted into "brand experiences" that will woo the consumer not into doing something else, but simply into consuming the "brand experience."

* We can change the future. There may not be a more effectual art form in

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