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IBC 60 Seconds With Miles Young

Miles Young is CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, one of the world’s leading advertising agencies. He joined the company in 1983, and has seen the company expand significantly in terms of size and market share in the three decades since then. He is speaking on the panel ‘The New Advertising: How the Medium and the Message are Adapting to the New Digital World’ and is currently based in New York

Q. You are speaking in the panel ‘The New Advertising: How the Medium and the Message are Adapting to the New Digital World’. Can you sum up how well that adaptation is going in a sentence or two?

A. Everyone’s adapting, but as you look around sometimes that adaptation is sometimes less than successful. Where the adaptors are whole-hearted it’s going very well, but when they’re working with digital as some kind of new specialism, it’s not going so well. There’s a difference between strategic adaptation and just playing with it tactically.

Q. How would you say advertising has changed since you joined Ogilvy & Mather nearly three decades ago?

A. Then everything was packaged into neat little packets, TV, press, radio etc. As we speak now, that packaged creativity has changed into what I call pervasive creativity; we don’t lob individual packages at people any more, we create a content environment that consumers access.

Q. What career achievement are you most proud of?

A. Building a strong business in China. We were the first advertising business to enter China and are by far the largest. Also winning the Guinness business, which was the one great pitch of my life back in the early 80s.

Q. What are the main challenges that the advertising industry faces in 2012?

A. Revenue and sustaining growth. It’s very clear that things are going to be extremely difficult in Europe, and the first year of a new administration in the States might be difficult as well

Q. What is an American viewpoint on the European market at the moment?
Complete perplexity. It’s an inability to understand the nightmarish confusion of problems and issues. It just looks to people like it’s a crazy piece of knitting that unravelling. It’s seen as both arcane and it’s worrying.

A. How relevant is the old, non-digital world to advertising nowadays?
The importance of an idea remains critical. But, in terms of the way you go about communicating, ie assuming TV is everything, for example, and that integration can happen after you’ve got a piece of advertising created, then it’s not at all relevant.

Q. Aside from your own panel, what are you most looking forward to at the Show?

A. Just being there. Advertising isn’t at the heart of IBC, so it’s going to be fascinating to network and meet people.

Q. How close are we to global advertising, or is localisation at national or even regional level still important?

A. In some areas we’re quite close in creating platform ideas which cross borders. Having said that it’s pretty clear that local or regional activity is still fundamental. The process of creating global advertising has to be bottom up as well as top down. If you just sit in a gilded tower in New York it won’t work. But it you create it as a cooperative effort involving people and harnessing insights from different markets, you’ll have much more chance of succeeding.

Q. What is your all time favourite campaign?

A. That would have to be David Ogilvy’s Rolls Royce campaign; it’s so elegantly written, so beautifully crafted.

Q. Imagine that in ten years time, we will repeat your panel. What new things would you expect to be talking about?

A. By then I expect we won’t use the word digital. Digital will be so much what we do normally it won’t need to be described separately, and that will be a huge progress.
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