Brian Fetherstonhaugh, CEO Ogilvy One
Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide, spent the last 18 months touring his company's 100 offices hunting for trends and found the "monster" that is affecting all businesses.
"The monster is that consumers everywhere are seizing back control through the use of technology," he said in an interview with the Sun. "The iPod is not about a technology. It's people seizing back music agendas from the DJs of the world. TiVo isn't a storage device but it is people choosing their own television agenda. Google isn't a search technology but a new shopping agenda for consumers. These are all the same thing. Power to consumers."
Businesses must understand that the technology is being used to change what he calls the "consumer journey".
"We tell clients to forget the technology. Watch how people shop," he said.
For instance, he noted the changes in his own buying habits.
Two years ago he bought a guitar in a music store. His most recent guitar purchase was different.
"I searched about guitars on the Internet and read the different manufacturers' websites. I went to comparison websites which contained third party referrals, then went to eBay to check out residual value, or what a used version of each was worth these days," he said.
"I still went to the store to buy the guitar because you need to hold and play a guitar before you buy it. But I spent most of my time setting up my purchase digitally. Then I signed up for an e-catalogue to create the next journey," he said.
Everything from cameras to cars and colleges are being researched and bought online these days. But advertising budgets are not reflecting this behavioural sea-change, he said.
"Consumers spend 18% to 25% of their time with digital media and yet advertisers invest 6% of their dollars there," he said. "There is a digital spending gap and a catch-up coming. So we tell our clients to find out how their potential customers are shopping and to match budgets with shopping behaviour."
OgilvyOne is part of the storied Madison Avenue great, Ogilvy & Mather, and specializes in what's known as "direct marketing". This is advertising aimed at individuals and measured by actual sales as a result of mail, e-mail, 800 numbers, pay-per-click ads or interactive websites.
OgilvyOne devises campaigns or acts as a consultant to clients such as Dove, Nestle, Kraft, IBM, Cisco, Amex, Mattel and Motorola.
And while the "monster" trend is global, the use of technology varies around the world.
"Consumers have taken control but technology usage varies. There is six times as much e-commerce on telephones in Japan and South Korea as on computers," he said. "And Asia is ahead in the digital wallet and other cell phone use."
The "wallet" consists of swiping cell phones in retail outlets or train stations in order to make secure transactions that are added to phone bills.
"Japan and Korea are also ahead in terms of gaming and television shows on cell phones. There are 30 TV stations available on phones in Korea such as news or live sports," he said.
OgilvyOne advises clients on how to follow all this consumer fickleness.
"Advertisers must get the wake-up call and understand how people spend their time and how they spend money, then hit the refresh button every six months or a year," he said.
Mr. Fetherstonhaugh personally knows about adaptation and flexibility. He travels 110 days a year in this job and has lived in a number of cities. He's a Montrealer who was recruited in 1997 to advertising's mecca, New York, after running Ogilvy & Mather's Canadian operations.
"At first, I didn't think I'd like New York. I thought it was interesting and important, but nasty like taking cod liver oil," he said. "I underestimated the vibrancy and diversity. There are 20 Broadway shows and 500 really good restaurants and a lot of energized people within walking distance of here."
But he finds the "headspace" is different.
"Canadians are collaborative and globally minded which is helpful in this job," he said. "We try to create a sustainable collaboration not based on a compliance mentality. I lead with my ears, not my mouth."
In addition to being CEO of the direct marketing efforts, he is also COO of Ogilvy's $1-billion-a-year IBM account. This dual role, of shepherding a specific client and running a full-service operation, is not unusual to Ogilvy.
"It's a unique model having client and operating responsibility but it grounds us," he said. "It's a very good idea."