(VIDEO) Great Creative Is 'Table Stakes' As Clients Seek Insights, Knowledge: TBWA's Ruhanen

LAS VEGAS - Creative agencies are managing a transition from a service culture to a knowledge culture. Along the way, the heretofore trusty 30-second television spot has yielded to a continual search for the most appropriate video format and accompanying production budget, according to Troy Ruhanen, the CEO of TBWA.

"I think a lot of us are trying to find out what is the new format. Is it 30 seconds or is it 10 seconds or is it two minutes," says Ruhanen. "We're really stretching out to find out what is the right kind of engagement for the customer."

In an interview with Beet.TV at CES 2017, Ruhanen sees a "real arc to try to work out how to manage" clients' production budgets.s.

This leads to discussions like, "We're going to push this out, it's going to be immediate, we're going to take it back down. It's not there to go run in the Super Bowl," says Ruhanen. "I think it's really an ongoing conversation with clients right now."

Citing some 19 client wins from 22 account pitches over the last two years, Ruhanen says marketer expectations of great creative output "is like table stakes" for TBWA. "What's interesting about that is it wasn't about the work as much as what it used to be," he says. "It's much more about how do you work, how do you uncover insights, where do we get knowledge."

Marketers, he notes, are "very stretched internally" so they're looking for proactive business partners.

Competition for hiring the best talent is pitched. "And what it's replacing is sort of the service culture. It's much more into knowledge culture," Ruhanen says. It's led TBWA to hire journalists, people from Wall Street and "a lot of people, believe it or not, out of national security."

A winning element of creative executions is cultural touch points in an age of global stress and strain. Ruhanen points to TBWA's annual holiday campaign for Apple and an effort for ANZ bank in Australia.

The Apple ad features an iPhone-using Frankenstein who lives a Grinch-like, secluded life until he ventures into a local village and finds friendly people, as Tech Crunch reports. "That was incredibly timely and very, very impactful," Ruhanen says.

In the ANZ campaign, which targeted females, youngsters are doing tasks for pocket money but the boys are unknowingly paid more than the girls. "I think doing things that are culturally relevant, that are about some of the tensions that are in society right now" are the ones "that are really hitting home," says Ruhanen.

This video was produced as part Beet.TV's coverage of CES 2017 presented by 605. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.

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