John Minty is Chief Operating Officer of DDB California, including offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco. DDB California is part of DDB Worldwide Communications Group Inc., a worldwide marketing communications network. The Makegood exclusively spoke with John about his new position, brand stories, and top performers.
The Makegood: Congratulations on your new position as Chief Operating Officer of DDB California! What are your new duties and goals for your first year at DDB?
Thank you, I’m very excited to have arrived at DDB. I’ve admired this network as an outsider for quite some time.
My remit at DDB California is clear: to help the agency become a place that architects big, beautiful brand stories that can be told in dynamic 21st century ways.
This goal is very much in response to an industry that is struggling to maintain its relevance in today’s world. As an industry, we seem to be chasing whatever marketing tactic happens to be in favor at any given time. But, really what we need to be great at — indeed better than anyone — is creating meaningful brand stories that drive our client’s business results by engaging consumers with deep emotion.
Therefore, as part of my duties, I need to help ensure DDB California is equipped to succeed as a 21st century storyteller by best employing the financial and operational assets of the agency by: building and maintaining a robust culture and partnering with our clients to create forward-looking agency teams and practices.
By the end of my first year, if I’ve helped build a management team that can lead the agency forward, helped to create a meaningful destination for talent and brands alike, and improved the quality of the culture – that would represent success in my mind. If I do that, then we will continue to enjoy financial success.
The Makegood: You are known as a passionate driver of company culture and supporter of your people. What advice do you have on managing people and how do you keep top performers?
Attracting and retaining great talent is not a necessity in our business. It is the only thing.
- It is vital to create an environment where top talent is respected, nurtured, rewarded and given opportunity to grow and expand creativity. Respect talent, and demonstrate understanding of their value.
- Nurture talent by surrounding them with other talented, respectful and happy people. That is infectious.
- Compensate talented people in holistic ways. Money is part of that equation, but it isn’t the whole answer.
- Training and exposure to new kinds of creativity – new people, new ideas, new things, reminders of old things — will keep talent engaged. These are means of compensation that are not going to be found on a pay stub but are probably more valuable.
The Makegood: As CFO and COO, you spent years at top agencies including TBWA, McCann Erickson, and Venables Bell and Partners. What are the biggest challenges for the creative technology industry and how should they be prepared to keep up with today’s digital age?
There are so many challenges facing our business today: the demolition of the purchase funnel, the uncontrollable power of social media, the fragmentation of traditional media, and the 24 hour communication loop.
However, these are opportunities, and the biggest risk to the agency business is inflexibility.
Being inflexible and resisting new ways to do things signals death. We need to embrace new media and celebrate it. We need to embrace the abolition of status quo. We need to fight for compensation models that reward an agency for its value not reimburses it for its cost. We need to embrace experimentation without apprehension.
And, we need to convince our clients to do the same. As agency partners who rely on their business, if they do not evolve, we cannot evolve.
To keep current in this rapidly changing world, everyone in the agency needs to be curious, hungry students of our business. It is our responsibility to constantly feed our culture with opportunities for more learning, more exposure, and more immersion in technology. We need to create environments where technology is a matter of course.
The Makegood: You said that DDB sets the standard for all advertising and marketing companies. What can marketers learn from the agency?
DDB has been an innovator in this industry for 75 years. We pushed the print media forward in the 40s. We pushed television to new heights in the 60s. We were in the digital vanguard with Tribal back in the 80s.
DDB has always joyfully embraced, and even created, new ways to tell stories. While we still believe that new tactics and technologies will always be coming around the corner, the art, craft, creativity and talent needed to create enduring, brand stories hasn’t changed since the beginning of time.
That’s what marketers can learn from us. They can learn that chasing tactics is not a strategy. They can learn that an insightful, emotional, honest and meaningful brand story is what makes the technology powerful. They can learn that creativity is a powerful business advantage that can — and often does — make the difference.
The Makegood: Thanks, John.