#SamosaTalks: I am not a big believer of causevertising or storytelling: Barry Wacksman, R/GA

Barry Wacksman

In a video interview with Social Samosa, Barry Wacksman, Vice-Chairman & Global Chief Strategy Officer – R/GA sheds some light on the causevertising culture in the ad world, cultural data, and much more.

“What we are focused on today is ‘Transformation at Speed’ – we offer integrated solutions that help our clients with business problems, how to create new products and services,” shared Barry Wacksman, Vice-Chairman & Global Chief Strategy Officer – R/GA while introducing us to R/GA.

The agency competes in a lot of different industries against more traditional competitors like consulting, in design with the element of technology and in marketing communication. It was founded in 1977 by two brothers who were pioneers in the industry for feature film and visual facts; over the years R/GA has moved into a lot of other businesses and as Wacksman claims, has emerged as one of the leaders in the digital agency space.

When quizzed about the current trends storming up the ad world, Wacksman informed that a lot of R/GA’s  clients particularly the ones who were born before the digital revolution are experiencing this big disruption in their business and many of them are on the record saying that our business is being disrupted and that we need to figure out how to make big changes. “I think what most of them mean is that they are looking at innovative ways, not just in advertising but they’re trying to innovate the business by trying to invent new products and services”.

He further comments on how to build modern brands at a time when consumers are finding more and more ways to not spend in media that is ad-supported.

Wacksman added, “So how do you create traction nowadays because technically this is more challenging with a young consumer who is spending their least amount of time on traditional media where it was very easy to build brands with TVCs, print ads, and radio spots. How do we build modern brands than when we don’t have access to these consumers because they are not consuming media in the same way”.

Also Read: #SamosaTalks: Look at your consumer with love and not fear: Gordon Bowen, McGarryBowen

Further moving to the content creation space, Wacksman shares that he is not a big believer of causevertising or the storytelling format in advertising. He thinks there is a lot of purpose-driven advertising in festivals such as Cannes – though not sure how much of that actually helps to sell the product in the end.

“So a big challenge stands there. I don’t know about India- but in the US whats driving content viral is the social media  – an idea that somebody can post a video and then other people start sharing. Most of the platforms have blocked ads so the idea that a brand can go viral nowadays is almost impossible without paying media fees to the publishers like Facebook or companies like that. So there was an opportunity maybe five years ago but I don’t think so it’s the same case today,” he opined.

Wacksman also doesn’t believe that content creation is the be all and all of the industry. It is also the most important problem that R/GA can solve for its clients. He thinks that even though we create the most beautiful piece of advertising but we were not able to connect with the audience and solve the marketing or the business problem that the particular clients were expecting. “Hence we need to expand the creative opportunity beyond storytelling to business transformation driven by innovation, by experience transformation which we did in design with the element fo technology and by marketing transformation which is how we create engagement and sharing in a modern way”.

On bigger networks acquiring independent and small agencies, Wacksman does see a trend towards companies trying to expand their capabilities whether it is a consulting company buying creative shops or a data company. He feels that this might be the new trend of acquisition to expand and create broader capabilities more responsive to a marketplace where the needs of clients are much broader than they were in the past.

Also what it takes for a campaign to become viral in this digital age and to know more about Wacksman’s take on the Indian creative industry, watch the full interview here.