Editorial Taking a direct hit

What is truly refreshing about meeting someone like Barry Day, vice-chairman of international advertising development for Lintas Worldwide, is not only the experience of his gentlemanliness and his insight, which are considerable.More, it is his bluntness. His willingness to take a...

What is truly refreshing about meeting someone like Barry Day, vice-chairman of international advertising development for Lintas Worldwide, is not only the experience of his gentlemanliness and his insight, which are considerable.

More, it is his bluntness. His willingness to take a direct hit about what ails advertising today, followed by a quick comeback on what it will take to bring the business back to health.

Yes, he agrees, many of the big ad agencies have lost the trust of their clients. Over the past decade, they have spent conspicuously, have neglected the real needs of their clients and have become disconnected from their core advertising product.

‘We have a lot to answer to,’ says Day, who is based in London.

But then his faith in the adaptability and the relevancy of good advertising people surfaces.

‘Agency people will need to develop a better understanding of the consumer. We need to broaden our exposure and find new techniques of knowing consumers at least as well, and probably a lot better, than our clients.’

Traditionally, agencies have played the role of custodians of – and advisers to – the maintenance of brand names and brand equity. This role will not change, but the method of fulfilling it will, Day says.

‘Making the ads will be just one of the things that we’ll be doing. It won’t be the prime thing. We must think of ourselves as an industry tied to the communications process. We probably won’t even be called agencies. We’ll be known as a communications place.’

And, with a battery of new specialists at the ready to help sort out the ever more complicated communications universe, successful agencies will find themselves back in the familiar role of acting as the continuity between consumers and the many ways of reaching them.

‘The core of our business will be the understanding of the communications process,’ Day says.

A true globetrotter, who makes frequent visits to Lintas offices worldwide, Day also believes that contributions to this understanding will come from everywhere. In fact, he has high praise for the work and the ideas that are being generated by the Toronto office of MacLaren: Lintas, and Day has high expectations for Canada in general.

‘You most certainly have the talent here. Of course, whether you choose to play and export that talent and your work, that’s your decision. I know that I come here looking to draw from what’s happening here.’

Day suggests that countries such as Canada, Australia, Brazil and those comprising Eastern Europe, are well positioned to lead in shaping the way communications will be.

He calls them ‘Tomorrow Countries.’

‘Apart from the good work that is coming out of these countries, there is also a spirit of curiosity there, a sense of not accepting what’s told to them. Older cultures tend to think they know it all.

‘Tomorrow’s countries want to know more. They’re hungry for information, they’re ready to challenge and they’re willing to try things differently.’

And the rest of the world is waiting.

‘Talent can come from anywhere,’ and, adds Day, ‘today, anyone is willing to go to where the talent is.’