The Chicago Advertising Federation's Silver Medal Award Winner on the best ads of 2011 and best practices for 2012
Editor's Note: The Chicago Advertising Federation fosters Chicago's booming advertising industry. Each year, the organization gives its Silver Medal Award to an outstanding member of the city's advertising community, recognizing his or her achievements. This year's Silver Medal Award went to Ron Bess, President and COO of Euro RSCG North America. The Yahoo! Advertising Blog sat down with Bess to talk about the award, some of last year's best campaigns, and what agencies need to know in 2012.
Yahoo! Advertising Blog: Congratulations on your Silver Medal Award from the Chicago Advertising Federation. How do you feel about joining the company of industry icons like Jack Klues, Bob Scarpelli and John Johnson?
Ron Bess: Thank you. It's not a bad fraternity to be a part of, to say the least. This is a true career highlight, being honored by the Chicago Advertising Federation at a time when I feel Chicago is thriving as a vibrant, future-focused agency community growing, hiring talent and winning business, as we are also coming together as a creative community.
YAB: Let's talk about 2011. What in your opinion were some of the best campaigns of the year (your agency's and others)?
RB: The best ads keep the conversation moving, whether that's by the water cooler or a stream of retweets. The ads that resonated last year had both visual and viral impact: Chrysler's Born of Fire with Eminem, Volkswagen's The Force. Old Spice ads that encourage you to share them and engage with them. The Most Interesting Man in the World campaign from Euro New York is amazing and keeps getting stronger and our new work from Euro Chicago for Cracker Barrel has in the words of their CMO turned them from laggards into leaders. We just finished a website for a blockbuster Disney movie, "John Carter," which will really immerse moviegoers in the Edgar Rice Burroughs story. I also like the Mayhem campaign for Allstate, and I thought the State Farm 9/11 creative work was very genuine and heartfelt.
YAB: This season, tablets are the thing. How do you see tablets changing the way agencies like yours will approach creative?
RB: Tablets make a lot of sense for many of our clients—they're a canvas for conversations with the consumers they target. The ad space is getting more crowded on tablets as we speak, but compared with other media, there's a real chance to innovate. New tablet ad formats are being released constantly. People love to read magazines in this format, and one study suggested 36% of readers click on ads! I don't know how much tablets will change how agencies approach their creative, but if click-through rates are truly that high, it may impact where they spend digital dollars.
YAB: Metrics and measurement are also keys to campaign success, but creatives sometimes feel at odds with "bean counters." How do you reconcile the two?
RB: This might sound hard to believe, but we don't have to reconcile them. Our strategy involves running Euro RSCG Chicago as a "unified" agency. We're a culture, where everything—advertising, digital, CRM, shopper marketing and media—are woven together. We have a unified team that participates in new business pitches, and we won 10 last year. We also increased our revenue 17%. Our belief is data and creativity work well together, and our young creative talent loves the clarity of direction data provides.
Jason Peterson, our Executive Creative Director, is an artist with the mind of a marketer—he truly understands what consumers want and how they think. Jason leads his creative team with vision and passion and he is also a great partner for media and marketing.
YAB: If you were to make one "blue sky" prediction for advertising in 2012, what would that be?
RB: Creative needs to be so contagious that people pass it on like a game of tag: "Have you seen this?" Social media will continue to expand. Mobile will keep growing. Data will be relied on more and more. Targeting will be more precise. Agencies that bring it all together will be more valuable…and the best ideas will still win.
The Chicago Advertising Federation will honor Bess with the 2011 Silver Medal Award on Friday, March 23, 2011 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.
— Michael Mattis