SPIKES ASIA - In a "fireside" conversation, Stephen Li, CEO of OMD APAC, and Richard Murphy, McDonald’s vice president for digital, growth and foundational markets, discussed "bravery" and "fearlessness", and how clients and agencies can have more of both.
"Fearlessness can only be felt when you feel at ease with yourself," said Murphy. At the same time, fear is natural in business. "I know the business outcomes I want, but I don't necessarily know how I want to get there. and it makes me fearful," added Murphy.
A lot of angst comes from situations where clients and agencies both know they have to do something different, but that 'something different' is ambiguous. Furthermore, corporate structures can be tricky as there is an "insatiable desire to be in control", Murphy said.
Conventional wisdom says clients want their agency to give them a hard time; they want an agency that challenges them. However, is this really true at every level in every market, especially in Asia?
Junior-level client conversations can be exercises in keeping the peace rather than toppling the status quo. "It's beyond their paygrade to chart a course for the future," said Li. These cultural norms are holding back even senior management from expressing concerns or pushing challenging solutions.
It is much more fun to work with brave clients, Li said. "We're not suggesting that the client should be reckless, but rather be prepared to allow themselves to be challenged," he added.
It is far too easy to say 'no' when you have a multi-million dollar budget at stake. So how do we foster a sense of bravery? What's in this 'brave pill'?
Remember business fundamentals haven't changed, but how you do business can change.
It's about being fluid while focused on your KPIs.
Be honest about what you know and what you don't know.
Don't be afraid of failure, even if it sounds incredibly simplistic to say.
Ask: Where are we going and why do we need to get there? How can we get this right rather than let's not do this?
Have intellectual curiosity. Uncondition yourself; do not just wait for instructions and follow briefs.
"If you are not brave, you will be eaten slowly," concluded Murphy.
Campaign Asia-Pacific's take:
While the duo perhaps didn't break new ground on solving an age-old question, we thought it was brave to give a presentation without Powerpoint slides. We were hoping that McDonald’s would bring up this funny ad by TBWA Paris, which is the sort of thing that deserves the bravery label.