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Host Alan Quarry on Life at an Ad Agency | AQ’s Blog & Grill

Host Alan Quarry on Life at an Ad Agency | AQ’s Blog & Grill

Alan: Welcome to AQ’s Blog and Grill. Today
we have a guest host, Angela Pause. So, Welcome Angela. Angela: Thank you, Alan. I am honored to be
your first guest host. The first question is people want answers.
How similar are you to Don Draper? Alan: Don, who? Angela: How similar is Mad Men to the real
world? Alan: I love the series and I’m lucky enough
to know two or three survivors of that period and they
will say that it was, it is a pretty good representation
of a short period of time before they all collapsed and
I think that’s the thing to consider was that lifestyle of the drinking
in the office and just the incredible freedom and
wildness of that creative period could only last so long. Then
the clients started to want more accountability, but during that
period it was some glory years in creativity. These guys were a constantly
on and they were driven by this need to . . . we
can create something that’s going to grab people, it’s
art. It’s not advertising. Angela: In this industry where agencies and
they go and they rise and they fall and they very often merge. Alan: Mm. Angela: How has Corey not only survived but
thrived? Alan: The core has always been, will we have
a team as opposed to a company? Companies are shaped
like pyramids where there’s one person at the top and people
go down from there. While I learned from my friend
Joe Phelps in Los Angeles, pyramids are tombs. They bury people
in those things. Angela: Right. Alan: So, I wanted to help organize a team
that had commercial viability and worked well more
like a summer camp than like a building, the . . . Angela: Mm-hmm. Alan: . . . building the pyramid. So, I think
that’s what’s kept us together. I have three partners. Glen
Drummond and I have worked together for 29 years. Angela: Mm-hmm. Alan: Jay Fournier, 24 years. Ken Whyte, 22
years. So, we’ve put together quite a portfolio of experience
and the clients like that and . . . Angela: Mm-hmm. Alan: . . . since we haven’t had a lot of
client shift either, that stability has continued. A key
thing is, is to not let stability make you sleepy. You’ve
always got . . . Angela: Mm-hmm. need to do next? What we did yesterday was
good. How are we either going to do it better, how are
we going to do it faster or how are we going to stop doing
that so we can do something new. Angela: Mm-hmm. Alan: 1993, we started Interchange which was
our internet company. Angela: Mm-hmm. Alan: In 1993, not many people knew about
the worldwide web or . . . Angela: Right, very early. Alan: . . . the information super highway.
Yeah. Alan: How do I keep things fresh? How do we
keep things fresh? Interviewer: Right. Alan: I think innovation. If I had a t-shirt
that I could make. . . Interviewer: You can make one. You’re in the
industry. Alan: I’m going to make a t-shirt. Interviewer: Yeah. Okay. Alan: The t-shirt’s going to say “Innovate
or Die.” Every organization, no matter how mature they are,
or even how elderly they are, or how successful they
are, has got to start thinking like a start-up. They’ve got
to be lean and keen and looking to learn new things and unlearn the stuff
that isn’t relevant anymore, because that just slows
you down. It isn’t about being a fast company, it’s
about being an agile company, and it’s being able to. . . Well,
the expression is shift happens. Interviewer: Right. Alan: Organizations now have to be a group
of shift disturbers so that they don’t get complacent
and they don’t think that good is good enough, and
take some risks. I happen to think that failing forward is another
definition for innovation. You fail fast, you learn fast, you keep going. Interviewer: Give me an example of failing
forward. Alan: One of them would be our first attempt
at database marketing. That was good. We started a company
called dBasics. Interviewer: Right. I remember that. Alan: dBasics. I mean wow, how could that
fail? Because we didn’t, I didn’t, go deep enough. I thought
data was it. Data’s not it. Data’s worth 10 cents a pound,
maybe even 10 cents a ton. Interviewer: Right. These days. Alan: These days. Knowledge is where the money
is, that’s where the gold is. That’s where the equity
is. Interviewer: How are your clients accepting
all of this massive amount of information? Alan: You can’t fear big data because it’s
there. Actually, it’s always been there. We’ve always
had data lying around. What big data means is
that you’re able to comb through it faster, technology combs through
it. It’s able to make connections and integrate some of the
knowledge that you have about a customer over here, and a
distributor over here, and another customer over here, and
start putting them together. I think it has to become smart data, and in
just like any research, unless you ask the data the right
questions, you’re going to get information that isn’t
knowledge. You’re going to get a stack of stuff, and
you have to go, “Oh, what do I do with that?” If big data is just simply processing faster
and deeper, it’s not going to help your clients. Interviewer: Explain to me what brand means
to you. Alan: A brand is a promise. Brand image is
a promise made. Brand equity, promises kept. Brands are stories,
and actually, brands are stories we tell ourselves,
and then we tell others. We see something, and
we think there’s a thread of narrative in there that may resonate with
us, and so, we go, “Oh, that’s kind of cool.” Unconsciously
we go, “I see myself with that concept.” A brand is
a concept. Interviewer: Right. Alan: It’s not a product. It is the customer
who owns the brand, because it’s the way they think and
feel about that brand, not what we tell them to do. That
may be an influencer. So indeed, brand purchases are
very organic. We make brand purchases with the head, which is rational,
the heart, which is emotional, and then, the gut, which
is intuitionally, it’s your instincts, it’s your
intuition. Interviewer: Right. Alan: Those three things kind of get together
and we say, “Okay, I’ll buy that.” The heart, or the emotion,
has the upper hand. Interviewer: Mm-hmm. Interviewer: Who do you admire? Don’t give
me Apple, or any of your clients. Give me someone who may be flying
under the radar. Alan: A brand I surely admire is the Body
Shop. Anita Roddick. Brands have to resonate as much as
they’re relevant. Frankly, the Body Shop came into
being from the UK. When the time was relevant, people
were getting more interested in transparency. ‘Where’s this
product coming from? What does the producer believe in? What
are their values?’ She was not the first to stop testing on live
bunnies, or animals. She was the first to say, ‘We don’t
test on live animals.’ Well, boom. The brand started to get built with the ‘I
identify with that. I want to be involved in that,’ almost
becoming tribal. Interviewer: What can new, young start up
companies, which there’s plenty of around here, take from that?
How can they break through the clutter of every amazing
thing that’s coming out now? Alan: Well I think they have to, there’s no
question, that the founders of these start-ups have to put
their own personal and professional values out there.
‘We believe in this and we won’t do that.’ Remember when the two Steves started their
company, they wanted to democratize the computer. Their
goal was to bring the personal computer costs down
so that anyone could have one. The school boards could purchase
a lower cost, easier-to-use, personal computer. So as they said, and Wozniak continues to
say this, ‘You know, we didn’t start out to improve the IBM
personal computer. We started out to change the computer
world. We started out to make the world a better
place.’ Interviewer: Tell me, what’s next for marketing? Alan: There is no future for marketing. There’s
a tremendous future for branding. And there’s
a tremendous future for something that doesn’t exist, customering.
Which, then again, you know, it’s so funny how many
how many organizations say ‘We are customer-centric. We are customer-centric.’
And they have not changed their business model since the ’80s
or ’90s. The 1880s. The 1890s. You really do have to be like the customer
and you have to like your customer a lot, and respect them. Interviewer: Alan, I want to thank you for
letting me be your guest host. You were an amazing interview
as usual. Alan: Thank you. Announcer: AQ’s Blog and Grill

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