Finding Success by Fostering a Creative Work Environment

Deutsch Work Environment

The Advertising Club of New York is presenting an eight week lecture series on Advertising & Marketing. This past week Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch, and Gina Grillo, President and CEO of the AD Club, kicked-off the series with a one-on-one interview discussing the state of the industry and what it takes to grow your career in the field. Two of our Research Analysts share their thoughts on the session and how it contributes to our focus of getting digital right.

Deutsch has consistently made Ad Age’s Best Place to Work list and given Val DiFebo’s clear vision on building a culture, it’s no surprise. Deutsch maintains a fun and enriching work environment, where employees are free to travel by scooter around the office and encouraged to pursue outside interests. The agency realizes that these creative freedoms are key to keeping the best and brightest from walking just further down Madison Avenue to work for a competitor. DiFebo spoke about the importance of hiring the right people, not necessarily the people with the most experience, but those who are smart and interested in the world around them. She gave the example of a new hire who came from a skateboarding company and has already started campaigning for an office ski trip. Maybe not your typical “digital strategist,” but that’s the point, to create a diverse culture of real people who can draw from all types of experiences.

So, what’s the key to building one of the best creative agencies in the country? Step 1: develop a rich and diverse culture made up of smart, interesting people. Step 2: Listen intently. It’s the same when it comes to digital. Digital has allowed advertisers to try new and interesting things. Digital advertisers have blurred the boundaries between content and advertising and helped to elevate the medium as a whole. But the key to continuing that growth is to listen intently to consumers’ responses and use that to enhance products and offerings.

DiFebo discussed how the industry still struggles with the misconception that advertisers force people to buy products they don’t need, and therefore operate under the pillars of manipulation and greed. In reality, the main goals of advertisers are to sell products and move a company’s business. So how does that actually happen? Advertisers are not hypnotists or wizards. They also don’t make creative and copy decisions on a whim. The ads we see across all channels today were created for a purpose, and that purpose is data-driven. Deutsch recognizes the importance of data-driven insights and has thus entrusted its media buying and planning decisions to a man with a background in data analytics. Research and data are the backbone to any good ad campaign. “What can we fix tomorrow with the data we have today?” DiFebo asked when demonstrating that advertisers have no choice but to always think ahead.

Another industry challenge lies with measuring data and responses to the media in real-time. There isn’t enough time for strategic and creative decisions to go through rounds of approval when angry viewers are blowing up a brand’s Facebook page after a controversial ad goes viral. Creatives need to think faster and deliver quicker results. So what does this mean for the future of digital? TBD. But it’s happening and we’re all along for the ride. In the meantime, agencies can learn from what is happening at Deutsch. Let your employees ride their scooters to that 3pm meeting and bring their hobbies with them into the work environment. If you really listen to your employees, your target audience and those paying for your insight the digital experience will start to get a little clearer.

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  1. Raheel Farooq

    As for today’s advertising, I personally think the misconception you mentioned is not too misconceived. Advertisers do try to thrust their products on people. I remember a marketer friend of mine who too proudly expressed his achievement as selling comb(s) to the bald.
    But that’s what marketers and advertisers do. People, on the other hand, are not what they used to be. As customers, they have now access to review and recommendation data more ever. Controlling public opinion through mere advertising is literally impossible now, thank God! And that has ultimately lead wise advertisers to take the right turn, i.e., they’ve limited themselves to building thorough awareness of their product, having made sure it is worth it. Their old goal of increasing sales is replaced by that of generating leads, as it should rightly be!
    Thank you.