Steven Heyer Warns That Creative Isn't Enough

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NEW YORK ( -- Advertising agencies used to be a CEO's most important ally, but their importance has waned

Photo: Hoag Levins
Coca-Cola's Steven J. Heyer said agencies are missing the boat.
over the last three decades as they ceded influence to management consulting firms and other experts.

So said Steven J. Heyer, president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola Co.'s Coca-Cola Ventures, speaking today at the AdWatch: Outlook 2002 conference, co-sponsored by UBS Warburg, Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR and Advertising Age.

Need integrated campaigns
Mr. Heyer observed that agencies seem more focused on producing good creative than planning media and strategy and in delivering integrated campaigns.

Flanked by a table with several bottles of Coca-Cola -- including the new Vanilla Coke he had brought with him from the soft-drink giant's headquarters in Atlanta -- Mr. Heyer said good, strategic product placement or community outreach programs can be more effective than 30-second TV commercials.

To Mr. Heyer, advertising and marketing are more

Photo: Hoag Levins
Practicing what he preached, Mr. Heyer sat next to a table cluttered with Coke products.
important than ever because consumers have so much choice.

"In my world, every function is subservient ... to marketing," he said. He said he believed outdoor and radio were underused mediums, and that outdoor may be "the only mass medium with a real long-term future."

Questioned about his predictions for growth in the media market by Lou Dobbs, anchor and managing editor of CNN's Lou Dobbs Moneyline, Mr. Heyer said he sees a mass redeployment of media dollars from TV to other areas.

Shifting ad dollars
"There is an enormous opportunity for dollar-shifting between and among media," he said. "There is an lot of value in an awful lot of places."

Internet, however, is not one of them, as far as brand-building is concerned, he said. The Web is good for data collection, direct marketing and communicating with consumers.

Uniting people
He said because 70% of Internet use is for e-mail, it suggests to him e-mail is a good tool for uniting people.

"Right now, the Internet is a way to build a dialogue, gather data and make offers to consumers," he said. In time, however, "as broadband expands, and interactivity and TV are better developed, there may be more opportunities."

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