The concept of the digital creative director is becoming increasingly blurred. And no more so than for Pete Moss, ex-regional executive creative director of OgilvyOne Asia-Pacific.
Moss, who joined OgilvyOne in Hong Kong in 1994 and became the regional ECD in 2009, was recently promoted into a more strategic role, and to some extent is still finding his feet with the sudden change from creative to planner.
“I am a few weeks into this role and still having to define it, so it’s going to be an interesting journey to see what happens,” he says. “But we are in a world that is changing by the day. You can either be daunted with that prospect or be liberated by it, and I choose to be the latter.”
Perhaps, though, the transition from creative to planner is not such a surprising move. Given the nature of the creative role within a digital agency - where the traditional “pure” creative toiling over the big idea is often superceded by bigger picture strategic thinking, especially at regional level - what is more surprising is that other digital agencies have not moved down this road.
Looking around the region, the hiring of talent in senior planning and strategy roles has been a major priority for creative agencies over the past 12 months - Richard McCabe at Publicis, Mark Sinnock at Ogilvy, Rob Campbell at Wieden and Kennedy to name a few.
Being able to combine the creative with innovative ways to understand a client’s business is of growing importance in an increasingly integrated marketing environment. In the digital sphere, it could easily be argued this is an even higher priority.
Moss himself is unequivocal about the significance of the newly-created role for the agency and its clients: “I think the fact that the new role exists is very telling of what we do at OgilvyOne.”
So how will his new function - for now listed as VP of customer experience - work in practice? “You need someone to go in there,” he says. “Not so much educating, but kind of evangelising the positive side of taking the next step forward.”
And that next step requires Moss to get involved with the client from the outset. “When clients give a brief,” he explains, “I can say: ‘hang on a minute, do you want to sell this particular product with this particular benefit right now?’ I need to ask what the biggest part of the idea is here?”
For Moss, the move to a more client-facing role is a shift in career focus. He began his working life as an analyst and programmer whose greatest kick was having 10 megabytes of storage. After a decade crunching binary, he put software, and the UK, firmly behind him and made the shift to Asia and the advertising industry.
“Getting into direct marketing and advertising and seeing how the internet and the whole digital world was beginning to have a lot more impact on people’s lives was serendipitous,” he says.
Moss is emphatic about what it takes to deliver the enhanced customer experience. “It is not about what do we do on Facebook, or what we do on Twitter, or what do we do with mobile, but rather thinking about what people are doing and what the brand is doing to connect through all of that.”
But with the advertising industry changing as quickly as Moss’ job descriptions, what does he think will be the next big busines model?
“If you take advertising at its most fundamental level - communicating to the right people and in the right environment and with the right message - then I would argue that advertising has got even more opportunities to do brilliant things than it ever has before. And, if we get it right, then clients won’t have a problem paying for it.”
This article was originally published in the December 2010 issue of Campaign.