JWT. Digital as R&D.

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In a Forbes interview with David Eastman, CEO, JWT North America, he speaks of his shop’s unique place in history. Of course, some of it was the same old/same old, which made sense for the audience, but what really stuck out was JWT’s commitment to integrating digital into its offering.  Mr. Eastman may be the first digital officer to CEO a major holding company ad shop.

For a big global shop like JWT, digital is really the R&D department. R&D never really existed at agencies before.  Sure, there were innovations think tanks and media kitchens but those were mostly window dressing.  Eastman believes R&D is an investment not an expense and because JWT hangs with major consumer brands and has a strong brand planning culture, everyone gets the value of a powerful brand idea and everyone gets a seat at the table. This R&D department isn’t off campus in a lab somewhere. Even creatives are open to the manifest destiny love (ish).

So what does this mean?  The outputs are better.  The ads are informed by digital insights, the didge is coddled by emotional consumer brand ideas, and the media intersects at just the right moment. The work doesn’t feel like work to many consumers, it feels welcome and softly influential. “Soft influence.” Hmm, I like that.

Sometime the approach is a little sloppy, sometimes it’s quite elegant, but it’s almost always goaled (as they say) on being brand-strategic.  In this tactics-palooza marketing world, a holding company shop with a transmedia team working with the wind at its back offers a superior product.  But you knew that. Peace!