Need to focus on Consumers: Brian Sheehan

24 Jul,2014


By Pritha Mitra Dasgupta


Although he quit advertising in 2008, Brian Sheehan, a former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, is still a part of the network as chairman of the Saatchi & Saatchi WW Toyota Executive Board, which works exclusively on the Toyota account. Sheehan spent 25 years with the agency, 15 of which were as CEO leading its business in markets including Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and Los Angeles.


In his maiden trip to India, Mr Sheehan spoke on the shifts in advertising and his association with Toyota, the agency’s biggest client. Edited excerpts:


What’s your association with Saatchi & Saatchi right now?

 I run the Toyota worldwide board for Saatchi & Saatchi. And much of my 25-year career I have worked with them (Toyota).


So, when I left Saatchi, Kevin Roberts, who is the worldwide CEO, asked me if I would continue coordinating the Toyota business on a global level. So I chair and run probably four-five meetings in a year with all the global people who run the Toyota business.


You spent a major portion of your career in Japan, Hong Kong and several other markets in the Asia-Pacific. What kind of shift in advertising do you see now?

It’s totally different from when I was here. I was in APAC from 1988 to 1999 and that was really the era of traditional advertising.


What we are going through right now is a number of revolutions happening at the same time. The digital revolution that led to the social media revolution which led to the mobile revolution which has ultimately led to the data revolution.


So all of those things have created a lot of fragmentation in the market. While that’s quite natural, clients don’t want to deal with so many different agencies to come up with one campaign. So we will see the beginning of integration or consolidation in agencies.


Globally, can you talk about one or two key trends that will define the future course of advertising?

That’s a tough one because if I could read the future, I would be a rich man. But I think the key trend that we are going to see is a return of the focus to the consumer.


Right now there is a real focus on technology, data and things that help you reach consumers.


But what is lost in all of those is what’s the real need of the consumer.


In one of your previous interviews you said big data without Love marks is meaningless. What do you mean by that?

If you have big love without big data, you will never reach your full potential. However, if you have big data without big love, it’s a complete waste of time. Because you don’t have a message that consumers care about. And the problem is so many people are now obsessed with data but they forget why we want the data. But I must also admit that data is extremely valuable but people are misusing it. They are in love with the data instead of the consumers.


Source:The Economic Times

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