I attended the Outside Speaker series sponsored by the New Denver Ad Club last night. The guest speaker was MT Carney, Co-Founder and Partner of Naked Communications, New York. The topic of discussion was that the current advertising agency model is broken, and it’s time to re-think how products, services and brands are connected to their consumers.
‘Relevancy’ was definitely the word of the day. The landscape that clients, media, agencies and consumers face is alien compared to what it was just 10 years ago. The world has changed very quickly with the massive surge in our technical culture. It’s much harder now to both rise above the clutter and define a clear and ‘relevant’ pathway through which to reach the target consumer. One 60 second commercial, run during prime time across major networks, no longer cuts it. Especially if your consumers are ‘on-demand’ television viewers who tape and fast forward through the nightly news or just get that news from the internet. The media landscape has become fragmented, and the consumer is now much more in control of what he or she sees.
Let me take a step back and try to define exactly what Naked does and the unique need they serve. The short version of the story is to call Naked an outside account planner for clients and agencies in need of an effective strategy. The long version is that Naked takes an in depth agency-disconnected view of what the client/account’s problem is and how to solve it. One would think an ad agency would serve this role, but so many agencies are stuck clinging to an outmoded model that just can’t be retrofitted to the modern market (hey Denver what’s up?). Naked basically seized upon this gaping wound of a niche. What makes them more than just an outside account planner or research company is that Naked aligns the proper strategy with innovation that it then transmits to the agency. Naked does not execute on their strategies. They leave that to the agency. Think of them as a marriage counselor for a rocky client-agency relationship.
Here’s a quote from MT taken from AdAge:
“Naked is premised on the notion that communications need not involve an ad buy. As such, it positions itself as neither a creative agency-Naked doesn’t execute on the strategy it creates-nor as a media agency. As digital channels proliferate and commercial clutter accumulates, it’s only natural that marketers would be taken with any counsel that can help them reach their targets-especially if that doesn’t involve heavy outlays on traditional media.”
What was most striking and unique about their approach is that they aren’t looking for the ‘sexy’ (won’t this get us into Cannes) solution. They are taking in a big picture perspective of what exactly the problem is that the client needs addressed. The strategy is developed around solving the problem and the campaign is then put into line with that strategy and then briefed for the agency. If the ‘non-sexy’ answer is simply bigger in-store signage at the point of consumer purchase versus a Twitter campaign, then that is what is recommended. New and shiny are not on the menu unless that is the meal the consumer is hungry for.
The results they have achieved are quite simply amazing. Naked gained 11 clients, including Coca-Cola, Johnson and Johnson, the NHL in just 8 months. Who knew there was so much money to be made (and saved) for both goose and gander in cutting the bullshit and looking for the truth?
The saddest part of the event was the attendance. For all the talk about Denver being at the cusp of becoming a future creative competitor within the national scene, it didn’t seem like very many people wanted to show up and learn something.
I was really inspired by the talk and will continue to be. It was an eye-opening experience and gave me a lot of hope for what could be done within the ad community here to help us become better players in the future. Thank you to NDAC for bringing something of true value to our community. I had chance to speak briefly with MT after the talk and she was as lovely as she is brilliant. It was a blessing to share time with a real innovator and player in the national advertising market.
Next time show up people.