Don't believe it? Listen to this: "Don't start with TV," is one of the new rules put down by the worldwide chairman and chief creative officer of TBWA Worldwide and one of the most legendary creative minds in the business today. "Start with an idea, with the brand strategy."
Mr. Clow is leading a reinvention of the Omnicom Group agency founded by the late Jay Chiat. His aim is to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape where digital technologies have put consumers in charge and fragmentation has derailed mass marketing.
TBWA/Chiat/Day will restructure its San Francisco and Los Angeles offices-with a combined $1.3 billion in billings and 650 employees-into TBWA/California, a discipline-neutral agency with a unified profit-and-loss statement.
As part of that, it will launch a "media-arts lab" to develop new disciplines and techniques for integrating brands into the popular culture.
"This is the time to up the ante," said Mr. Clow. "Brands are going to become media. It's the future."
In recent years, TBWA/Chiat/ Day's West Coast operation stopped the revolving door of client turnover that characterized the agency in its youth. It solidified the global Nissan account, and last year added over $200 million in new billings, a good chunk of it from package-goods brands such as Pepsi, Pedigree dog food, and Sara Lee's Ball Park and Jimmy Dean. Its work for Apple, especially the iPod silhouettes, has won acclaim.
THEY STILL GOT IT
But with hotshops such as Crispin, Porter & Bogusky and Mother drawing attention, Mr. Clow is out to prove that even though it's big, the former Chiat/Day still has a creative edge.
"What we are doing in California is developing the coolest network around the world," he said.
TBWA Worldwide CEO Jean-Marie Dru has focused on strengthening the New York office in recent years, believing he needs a solid U.S. headquarters to gain credibility as a global network. Mr. Clow said he supports that strategy, but that it doesn't lessen the importance of California.
"I want New York to be great and kick ass, but that doesn't mean I want them to kick our ass," said Mr. Clow.
The media-arts lab is intended to tackle another challenge for the West Coast powerhouse: extending its creative thinking beyond the TV spot to encompass marketing and media strategies.
Robert LePlae, president of TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles, becomes president-CEO of TBWA/California. Carisa Bianchi, chief strategic officer for Los Angeles, becomes that office's president.
James Vincent, global managing director on Apple, will head the media-arts lab, working with Ms. Bianchi and Chuck McBride, North American creative director. Mr. McBride will also develop branded-content initiatives.
Some West Coast agency vets viewed the reinvention of one of the region's most famous shops with skepticism. "Where have I heard this before-`We're going to have a new paradigm,"' said Harold Sogard, general manager of Omnicom sibling Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.