Do you know how to write a brief?
The Crystal Apple is to Turkish advertisers what Cannes is to the film world. The event took place last week, and it was a great organization. Crystal Apple, a Turkish association of advertising agencies, hosted many foreign guests as well. One of my advertising heroes was there, and I had the opportunity to have a conversation with him.
A graduate of HEC Business School, Jean-Marie Dru began his career with Dupuy Compton (now Saatchi & Saatchi) in 1971, as an account executive on Procter & Gamble. He quickly rose to the position of Executive Creative Director. In 1977, he joined Young & Rubicam in Paris as Managing Director, before becoming the agency’s CEO in 1979. In 1984, he co-founded the BDDP Group and worked as its chairman.
Within seven years, BDDP established its international presence in 26 countries and was ranked 15th among global agencies. After the merger of BDDP and TBWA in 1998, Dru became President International of TBWA\Worldwide. In early 2001, he was appointed president and CEO of TBWA\Worldwide, a position he held until December 2008, when he became its chairman. Dru has authored four books on advertising and marketing: “Le Saut Créatif” (Lattès, 1984), “Disruption” (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1996), “Beyond Disruption” (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2002) and “How Disruption Brought Order” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
Dru was born in 1947, but his soul is much younger. His eyes shine with excitement when he talks about advertising and the future. Under his direction, TBWA has become one of the most awarded advertising agencies, wherever it is represented. The Turkish chapter is no exception. The company received 47 awards this year, a record hard to beat. His secret is something that all creators should never forget.
Dru says that a brief is the most vital output of any creative entity. Without the right brief, creativity and innovation cannot meet the need. This is often forgotten in Turkey. We usually believe that to be creative or innovative, we have to be unorganized and crazy. Yes, being unorganized and crazy might lead to a few good ideas, but if you really want to make it a habit, then you need a very clear starting point and a definite direction.
Many Turkish start-ups fail because of this false belief. Many who call themselves entrepreneurs have only a good idea, but no plan or direction to follow. They cannot define their businesses, because they cannot define what problem they are addressing with their brilliant idea. It was surprising to hear from Dru, probably one of the most awarded advertisers in the world, that what is important is writing a brief rather than “being one with the spirit of the times,” as “star” creators say.
When I asked him whether he thought we would see any Turkish advertisers in top management roles globally, he cited the CEO of TBWA Istanbul, Cem Topçuoplu, saying he is too good to remain local to any country. I hope that we will see more people like Topçuoğlu on the global track.
There was only one question to which I really would have expected a different answer. I asked Dru about his opinion on the unsuccessful merger between Omnicom and Publicis. Dru said it was for the better. He said that the two companies had been competing with each other for too long to be best partners.
I also asked if he wasn’t afraid of software companies, as everything becomes digital. He said that software companies are trying to be advertisers and advertising companies are trying to become better at software production, and only time can tell which will be more successful. But Dru said that advertisers have the advantage, as there are many big firms employing the most brilliant minds in hundreds of offices across the world.
It will indeed be very interesting to see the result of the situation.