In The Room: TBWA Global Chief Creative Officer Chris Garbutt Isn't Buying It

I'm Not Buying It.

We know that the scarcest commodity of the near future will be human attention.

The ability to touch the hearts and minds of millions of people in an instant is both a distinct privilege and an overwhelming challenge for our industry. But honestly, this is the most exciting time to be in our industry because the world needs creative solutions now more than ever.

And so for me, it was a great honor to chair what I believe to be the most progressive and important category at this year’s Clios: Branded Content and Entertainment. It was a window into a world of what is yet to come, and to this radical transformation happening in our industry as traditional advertisements are eclipsed by more engaging and compelling content worth watching and worth spreading.

My jury was incredible, and together we left the room feeling inspired and excited.

The work we examined was extraordinarily diverse, from long form content to short 6-second films, music clips to multi-part series. One thing unified the best work: It was worth watching. In fact, some of it really earned its reason for being. Gone are the days of forcing people to engage in your advertising. You have to give people a reason to want to take part in your story. And the best content we saw did exactly that. It pulled you in, swept you up and took you on a journey that was unforgettable. Some so much so that it was worth paying for – not just with attention, but also with hard-earned cash. This is where branded content truly enters in to a league of its own. I think it would have been hard to predict 20 years ago that anyone would pay real money for anything understood to be advertising. Now, the lines have blurred in the very best way, and engaging content and experiences are in high demand from consumers, regardless of whether or not they have a brand attached. With this, the possibilities for what our business can be are endless.

Why create an ad about a service you can provide, when you can produce a documentary that frames the reason your brand is indispensable in the world? Lo and Behold is a feature length documentary that makes such a compelling case why there's a need for the brand like NetScout, in such a transformative digital world.

Why spend Millions when you can earn Millions in Media? 

Fearless Girl for State Street Global Advisers from McCann was such a brilliant brand action that generated a huge story around one focused idea. Not only did it provoke a global reaction, but it cut through culture in such a prolific way.

Why be predictable when you can enter the category like a U.F.O, disrupting everything that was done before?

Boost Your Voice for Boost Mobile from 180LA is a great example of a brand acting with a moral compass.

It proved that ethics can become currency for brands, and it was executed perfectly in such an integrated way.

If you are going to entertain, remember: Culture is our competition, and it moves at the speed of light. Our work is no longer competing with that of rival brand or retailer; we are fighting for consumer attention and dollars against every medium, every platform, every reality show and political meme and celebrity scandal.  

So be bold, be emotional, be iconic. And if you do it right, you can get people to pay attention, pay for what you have created and pay it forward.