About the author:

Jean-Marie Dru is the president and CEO of TBWA Global. He is the author of Disruption: Overturing Conventions and Shaking up the Marketplace and Beyond Disruption: Changing the Rules in the Marketplace.

Main content:

The author shares his experiences and insights into the world of advertising, which have made TBWA one of the most successful and acclaimed networks in the world.

Part I: Think differently

Chapter 1 – Method

The only thing that you can be sure of is that if you stand still, you will fail. We need to get rid of a mindset that has lasted too long.
Breaking boundaries is defined as “an idea that will accelerate our journey from challenged convention to renewed vision”.
In the 1980s, our first Break the Boundary made Tay Heuer watch brand elevate the brand through a sports campaign with the tagline Don't give up under pressure. Breaking the boundaries of Nextel is expressed in the sentence Others say, we do describe Nextel as a company of people who work.
In recent years, Breaking the Limit has spread in the US like “Think Different for Apple”, “Change for Nissan” and “Nothing is Impossible for Adidas”. In France, we have had a far-reaching influence on McDonald's and the French Railways. In Korea with SKTelecom…
As a result, gradual evolution, series of adjustments. Decisive changes. Our belief that what in the past was the fruit of intuition and chance, in the present must be the foundation of a systematic approach.
Every year, in many cities around the world, we celebrate Break the Limits Days.

The first step of Break the Limits day is warm-up exercises that help clients recognize conventions and stimulate the client's desire to challenge these conventions. Next is exploring the vision that is ahead of time and trying to envision what in the future could become a reality for the brand or the company. Then there are exercises to answer the "What - If" question. Then play the characters Richard Branson or Steve Jobs, they have to think like those characters. The final exercise is “headline” which is our imaginative way of summarizing progress for the day, then voting to make recommendations on progress that the client should follow.
A Break the Boundary Day sweeps away the scraps of the attendees' pasts. During this brief time, they leave what they know, and use the past to guide the future instead of remaining frozen in it.
In today's volatile landscape, brands must constantly evolve to stay relevant. If you don't change anything in the company, you will definitely fail. And you are also sure to fail if you change everything. The key to success lies in your ability to draw clear lines between what needs to change and what doesn't.
In fact, we act as a catalyst rather than a solution provider. We don't look for solutions ourselves, we help our customers find them.
Our client, Mars, a dog food company, invited over
200 managers to take part in Break the Limits days. We are absorbed in the images, the language, the packaging, the smell, the taste and anything else that has to do with dogs and their nutrition.
The company conceived the phrase “For the love of dogs” and it became the company manifesto. A manifesto called Faith was printed and released with the content: Everything that we do, we do for the love of dogs. The company offers a health insurance plan for all of its employees' dogs. The Mars Company has embraced Breaking the Limit to the point of making it one of its internal methodologies. Breaking boundaries becomes part of the way companies think about their business. This turned the company into an epitome of dog love, and key players in the market quickly caught up with them.

Chapter 2 – Products

I don't believe Limit Break is limited to a particular period. The concept will evolve in time, along with new consciousness and technology, but its foundation remains unchanged. "Today's visions are tomorrow's conventions."
On January 24, 1984, Apple Computer Company introduced the Macintosh, a 60-second promotional film that made such an impression that it showed the blur between commercial advertising and entertainment.
The 1980s were the glory years of advertising. We're not in the business of creating art for art's sake, obviously, but those 30-second or 60-second movies are masterpieces in the fullest sense of the term.
When everything has to be shortened to 30 seconds, talent is not enough. During the production of a film, the advertiser must immerse himself in cinematic culture as a way of perfecting his technique. It takes curiosity, as Renoir said: “You can only learn to draw by walking around museums.”
My interest in the advertising industry has made me a sort of "film entomologist" as we have seen, every 10 or 15 years, the dominant style of advertising evolve over a series of breaking, the range of expression has multiplied many times, leading to the diverse creativity of today.
Advertisers have understood that "telling" is not enough, illustrations are much more effective. The illustrated ads captivated us, like magic, yet they were so real. But illustrative advertising is not always imagined, illustrated ads run out of steam and are replaced by movies explaining the benefits of the product. “The idea of ​​offering for sale” is summed up in just one sentence like a slogan. Sometimes the selling idea is stronger than the brand.
The public has come to understand that advertising can be both clever and sensitive. Bill Bernbach's commercials have inspired every single person working in the industry, every talented creative in the advertising world is his spiritual descendant.
Nowadays, there is one way of communication that prevails over all, with some people reverting to a style they are familiar with and comfortable with. Others create short plays, or some kind of manifesto etc. In my opinion, you need to not stick to just one movement. We aim for eclecticism, known as the “ladder,” that tool consists of six boxes: primary memory location, attributes, interests, territories, values, and roles. When starting any advertising campaign, we always ask ourselves: “What level of the ladder do I want the campaign to represent?” Which way to go is determined by strategy, not by execution.
Promotional films will always be the best means of conveying emotions, as they combine image, sound and movement. Apple, Adidas and Pedigree would never be where they are today without the Internet TV commercials that would have had an unforeseen influence, filmmaking techniques have also become more mature, the Internet allows us to experiment more and measure results less expensively. Interactive media, once predicted to mark the end of television advertising, will actually contribute further to preserving its longevity. In the former way the consumer was dependent, now it is the consumer who decides. Power has changed hands. This is a turning point.
Today's generation is always connected and often multi-tasks: calling friends, playing online games on their electronic devices, listening to music, updating online diaries, all at the same time. that downloads digital music. We no longer construct our messages to this generation the same way as before. Young people's attention is more on immediate signals.

Chapter 3 – The Media

In today's world where audiences are segmented and media is growing rapidly, we all have a feeling everything is accelerating. Everything overlaps, everything links together. The Internet is erasing borders. The real and the virtual become intertwined, the visible being fed by the invisible. All the blurring of borders becomes a huge source of opportunity for visionary advertisers. The Internet is a medium that is both the point of departure and a destination for everything. Internet users can create a variety of creations, starting with creating a virtual personality for their real-life counterpart. These two characteristics enrich and nourish each other.
The penetration of reality into the virtual world is clearly facing resistance. A large number of internet users are actually looking for a way out of real life. Boundaries can be crossed as long as we understand that each virtual world has its own real culture, and we learn how to operate within it. This is how physical products will harness the potential of these virtual worlds. The real and the imaginary will come together, they will become one.
The lines between entertainment and advertising today are beginning to blur. The famous American animated film South Park is an example. In this case, the ad no longer interrupts a program. When we released the Irish group's single "Vertigo", many people wondered if they were watching a TV commercial or a video clip. We are saying that we are at the intersection of art and advertising.
Today, we no longer judge brands simply by the product or service offered, but by how the brand behaves, we speak of “brand programs”, which are a series of committed actions contribute to both tightening and strengthening social ties today. Branding goes beyond making promises to satisfy current needs, but also offers a full package of culture, aspirations into life and is related to public issues, not just advertising.

Chapter 4 – Agent

Our profession is at the intersection of art and business, we choose languages ​​to be effective, we have a lot of talent in every field. We build brands with their own expressions that, when we breathe life into them, in turn breathe life into our clients' businesses.
Only advertising agencies can deliver integrated media, can bridge the bridge between media and creativity, can offer strategic advice along with Creative solutions.
Charles Handy wrote that companies would do well to follow the model of agency agencies. Advertising agencies work side by side with people from many different disciplines – creative advertising, finance, planning, media, production always cross borders.
We are raising multiple sources of information about our most successful experiences. We have created a Bank of Limit Breaks. We have developed teams of mentors, organized seminars, coached leaders, provided tips, tactics, techniques to give our team a road map for rapid growth. more, this leads to a mix of skills. Each person is "rich" more thanks to the expertise of 10,000 other employees.
The key is to make people want to work together. We set up a media arts lab to find ways to refine our understanding of how media will work in the future.
We are inspired by cultural exchanges. We have created an advertising network that is like a miniature United Nations, but an effective United Nations. Differences are not an obstacle for us. On the contrary, they help us grow.
New York is a global capital of the business world and the advertising world in particular. But deep down I know that what I offer comes from my point of difference, from my French origin. Americans quickly adopted practices from elsewhere that they found worked.
This is how import breaks the boundaries. My dream is to make TBWA one of the most multicultural companies in the world. An ultimate integration, this is a condition that our company must meet in order to be one of the most attractive in the industry.

Part II: Action and difference

Chapter 5 – Culture

A business, a company must eventually create its own culture. The distinct cultures of companies like Ikea, General Electric, and Starbucks are well known, each of which is unique, and it has been closely watched over the years by leading business analysts.
For TBWA, culture is key. We also seek to combine skills with certain proficiency. In a business environment, a strong culture can be more powerful than one might think. In some cases, culture becomes the ultimate competitive advantage.
An Italian, an American, a French and a Swiss, all determined to avoid the national prejudice that conceived and made the TBWA story on August 11, 1970. As soon as we were born, we were supported by the media and the press. They had an unbelievable (free) PR program. After opening in Paris, we took advantage of establishing agents in Italy, UK, Germany to avoid being tied to only one country. The four founders showed great talent in persuading the greatest creative minds of the time to join them.
Guy Day and Jay Chiat are running two small companies in Los Angeles. On April 1, 1968, they merged their activities into Chiat/Day. To some extent, the company's growth has reflected Southern California's strength as a creative community.
Building a great company requires dedication from everyone. It was this dedication and long hours of work that led to the name Chiat/Day & Night
On January 2, 1984, our three partners opened BDDP.. From the very beginning, we wanted to build a company. strong than just a good advertising agency. We not only pioneered the advertising industry, we pioneered the management of an advertising agency.
The three companies, TBWA, Chiat/Day and BDDP, at one time or another in their history, have gone through uncertain, challenging times. But they still managed to stay alive. Often when a company is merged or acquired, its culture fades. But the culture of the three companies is quite similar which is what helps to bring the three into a unified whole. While company culture is important in every industry, it is vital in industries like ours. David Maister says: “Companies with a strong culture enjoy the highest levels of employee satisfaction, and those with the highest employee satisfaction levels are the most profitable. ".
Over the next 10 years, our organization was restructured, our business model transformed. The hardships we have experienced over the past 10 years have brought us to where we are today. We were named Global Network of the Year by Advertising Age, and received prizes at the Cannes advertising festival, the Grand Prix and many other prestigious awards.

Rewards create a virtuous circle. Good companies attract the most creative minds, winners, awards attract other great creative thinkers; who in turn make the company even better.

Chapter 6 – Value

No one believes in company values ​​as much as I do. Values ​​always play an important role in the life of a business as long as they are taken seriously. This belief applies to transparency, a quality at the heart of our company.
When we started our company, we assured our customers that everything was completely transparent.
No matter what company you work for, your dream, one way or another, will be to build something different, personal, and compelling. As Henry Ford said, "A business that only makes money is a bad business". So, our company is defined by its values ​​– integrity, boldness, and openness. Mark Kelleher advises: “Hire attitude, teach skill”. He's right. When we hire people, we focus too much on skills and talents, not caring enough about whether they fit the culture they're about to fit into.

Chapter 7 – Skills

I often give speeches in front of the staff to share my vision and create a "push" for the system. I emphasized the effectiveness of creativity: “Our mission is to make our clients known for the ideas they represent. That famous idea can propel the company forward for years.” Our aspiration is to make TBWA the most exciting place in the advertising industry. Therefore, we always continue to create, improve and develop our skills in 5 areas: organization, consolidation, action plan, new customers and internal communication.
We develop a very clear organization. We maintain the necessary inherent regional management structures. This means we have managers for the Americas, Asia, Africa, Middle East regions. In the same way, we empower global client managers with full power. They may decide to revise strategy or a campaign on the other side of the world; decided to replace the local client manager; Global customer management is completely centralized. We implement a two-frequency system that is very centralized in terms of client management but completely decentralized in terms of principles management.
We encourage specialized companies to work in harmony with each other, with some specific rules such as: no subsidiaries, only partner companies. Everyone must be treated equally. Strictly prohibit "introduction fee" between companies, but on the basis that we help people, people help us, they work together according to their own agreement. This leads to greater efficiency.
Management books on corporate strategy often discuss how to build "long-term strategic plans". It is dangerous to establish a strategy based on predictions. Unlike the plans of other companies, our business plan simply outlines the work to be achieved. We call it the 15-action plan. Each of the three actions of each chapter on: product innovation, breaking boundaries, connections, talent and organic growth, and commitments to accomplish during the year, are reviewed quarterly. It doesn't matter if by March you have no progress, by June you may be fine, but by September you will be in trouble.
I've been to hundreds of new client meetings, which are moments of high tension. We rehearse many times but only go on stage for a while, so all products are perfect, a single error will affect the trust of customers. Our job is to help our clients spot the opportunities that await them.
Some opportunities come slowly, others come only after a few encounters. The vast majority of our campaigns, especially creative ones, could very well never have existed without the input of our clients. Because of their thoughts, intuitions and comments are the reference basis for the agent's creative work. To be successful, the simple goal is to make it difficult for prospective customers to choose another agency. Acquiring new customers requires a method that is both systematic and comprehensive. A new customer is like a mirror, it gives us a reflection of who we are, an image that is sometimes cruel but always authentic. So luck and hope are not strategies.
In many companies, the CEO only talks to employees once a year over the year-end report. Personally, I decided to write a weekly newsletter to all employees, like a newspaper editorial. This work has contributed to weaving the culture of our corporation.
Every week I have to spend an hour thinking and writing, the issues covered are very comprehensive. I never miss an opportunity to share information that brings people closer together. The weekly newsletter that I send to the network is just an initiative. We launched the Web 2.0 generation intranet. Each communication principle and each brand of TBWA has its own channel. It is constantly updated from any computer or phone. Internal communication will no longer be just internal, it will become communication.

Chapter 8 – Principles

I have worked in many different fields, met and observed many leaders closely, witnessed first-hand, closely observed successes and failures. I have understood the tension in the management, have sensed the hesitation of some talented people. I have advised a few of them on a private level.
The Eastern Wisdom Bag is filled with parables that show us that human growth stems from an endless series of experiences and challenges. I don't believe much in natural leadership, the events they experience and the people they meet shape them. This is not to say that everything comes naturally, without effort. There are very few people who seem to be supremely sent, perfectly timed, like Steve Jobs.
I advise students not to follow the rules blindly, to avoid “trails with too many footprints”. Don't be satisfied with standard advice given by too many so-called experts. Act like a wanderer, for the first few years of your career, move from one position to another to avoid making the fatal mistake of not doing a job you enjoy. I gave them a set of counter-principles.
Anticipating problems and dealing with them before they get out of hand is still important. However, the future itself does not exist, it is shaped by a series of decisions made by both the company and its competitors.
A few years ago, it was believed that printed books were living their last hours, because people would read e-books. In fact, online book sales thrived, but books were still shipped traditionally and e-books couldn't take off.
Since it is not possible to directly plan the future, I advise students not to be afraid to try different things at the start of their business, not to be afraid to find out. Doing so is a sign of light, not instability. What we dare to do at the age of 20 (change jobs) cannot be done at the age of 40. “You need to find what you love”, “Your time is limited. Don't waste it living someone else's life” (Steve Jobs). The principles are surprising and certainly not conventional and go against the management tradition.
A leader's primary role is to provide clarity. For us, a network of many companies present in many countries, having clear and shared goals and strategies with everyone is important. The second principle is to reject the idea that there is only one strategy because performance is determined by execution rather than strategy. The third principle is easier decision making, simple decisions do not need to be reported to upper management, only difficult decisions are transferred to senior management. The fourth principle is related to error management, if you fail, fail fast. The fifth principle lies in cultivating incompetence, it is not enough to just dig up bad ideas lightly, because when they first appear, they are only a small problem, but over time they become serious if they are rejected. hide.The next principle is that when it comes to talent management, we have to find ways to attract and keep the best people. The final principle is that "we can be both one thing and one phenomenon at the same time and the opposite thing or phenomenon". Management is about reconciling opposites, overcoming opposites.

Part III: Behave differently

Chapter 9 – Advertiser

Lee Clow, the perfect advertiser.
He has been described as an innovator, spiritual father of the talented, a living legend, a guiding force, and a professional agitator.
“Ideas rule the world,” says Lee. They increase the speed of change.” With just a word or two, a sketch of the image, he can visualize the beginnings of ideas. Lee is a genuine Californian. He loves his hometown committee, where people are passionate about new ideas, where many media arts converge. “Everything changed in the year that young Steve Jobs released the first personal computer. Los Angeles became the new capital of the world and it still is today.
What makes Lee special is his talent for simplifying what seems complicated. One of Lee's less obvious, but important qualities is his stubbornness, his refusal to give in or compromise. Instinctively, he sensed what a brand could become. He describes Breaking the Limit: “Breaking the limit is breaking the status quo and replacing it with something bold and new. That might be the most powerful thing we offer. That might be what the world expects us to do. That can define who we are.” He concluded that the best problem solvers are often the advertising agency. Just a few words or a few pictures can change the way you see an issue, sometimes, even moving mountains. When advertising is strong, it changes destiny. Ask Apple and Energize or Adidas…will find out.

Chapter 10 – Brand

Being human again, these are the factors that lead to successful marketing. Some brands go even further by taking a stand against precedent, the very theme of which is their tradition. Change – Nissan slogan, Nothing is Impossible – Adidas mantra and Think Different – ​​signature for Apple. Advertising will generate positive internal public opinion. Employee confidence increases, and with it, an increase in sales force energy.
Thinking differently allows Apple to regain its place in popular culture before it launches a product. Steve Jobs said: “People celebrate people who think differently and move the world forward. And that's what we mean, it affects the soul of the company." Apple pioneered the way.
A brand can be famous without people actually knowing everything about it. This is true in the case of Adidas. Nothing is impossible has really lifted the morale of the company. As Adidas' international communications director points out, "We look for ways to express our attitude towards brands that are truly engaging and capable of generating strong emotions. Incidentally this is exactly the omen that Nothing is Impossible is doing.” Carlos Ghosn is aware that sometimes not following the rules is as important as respecting the traditions, and he is the one who paved the way for a new era of Nissan “change”, he said: “Change, a The only word that captures the passion and commitment that has revived Nissan and opened up our future.We change everything we touch and we make everything we change for the better, especially Nissan.” Nissan's philosophy forbids complacency. Nissan was never satisfied with the present.
One of the oldest known paradoxes is: “You can never bathe twice in the same river.” The future is not smooth. The future can only be reached by a series of breaks, but very rarely in a row. Nothing lasts forever but change.