@ OMMA: Isobar CEO Nigel Morris To Ad Industry: This Is Not The Time Of Mad Men


imageThis is not the time of Mad Men. It’s been a grueling week in the financial world. After a day of rah-rah messages about the resiliency of the business, Isobar CEO Nigel Morris’ keynote speech kicking off day two of the OMMA Platform Wars served as a bracer. He delivered a half-hour jeremiad, picking up from Spark Capital’s Dennis Miller’s comments about the ad industry yesterday here as mired in laziness and hypocrisy. “The days of the [AMC cable show] Mad Men were about creativity and innovation. Ever since 1980, the advisory role of the industry has declined. Madison Ave. has failed to respond to the challenges of digital. When confronted with new opportunities, Mad Ave. say, ‘Oh my God, that’s going to be a lot of work. The digital side hasn’t helped too much. The new nomenclature has confused clients.”

Don’t blame it on Google: “Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has innovated and the ad industry hasn’t. That’s why we’re looking down the barrel of a gun. The financial industry shaped the culture of the past decade. The ad industry hasn’t. There are enough people thinking that it may be shaping up to be another 1929. And we need to change.”

Macro trends: Here’s what I see happening to business. The interconnectedness, atomization of the world has brought opportunities . We’re seeing ‘the rise of free.’ It creates an enormous opportunity for advertising to fill. It doesn’t matter if you’re WPP or one of the other major companies. We are need more people to help meet those opportunities.”

The mission of marketers: “Brands have to look at themselves as offering a service to consumers. What you do as a brand is going to be more important than what you say. In the world of Mad Men, the brands were the ones that told the stories about themselves. In this world, the best brands let the consumers tell the stories — and they talk back. The online side of the industry understands behavior. The offline side has never had a clue, but they’ve understood consumers’ motivations. The online side hasn’t understood that. Bringing both sides together is essential. We have to move from campaign-based thinking to continuous conversation with the consumer. “

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