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April 4, 2008

MEDIA SWITCH: The move to experiential continues

This follows other high-profile defections, including Peter Cowie’s move from an above-the-line role at Fitch to managing director if PCI Fitch, the agency’s experiential arm. Following the rebrand to FitchLIVE, Cowie has recently moved on and it will be interesting to see if he remains within the experiential field.

Another interesting move reported on by EVENTS:review last year was Victoria Biggs’ move, not from an ad agency, but from the digital sector. She left her senior marketing role at eBay to head up business development at live agency Out of the Blue Communications.

More signs of the gravitational pull of experiential are the number of ad agencies that have launched a live arm, such as Iris, which poached Cameron Day from the UK’s biggest independent experiential business RPM, last year, as well as Photon UK adding Sledge to its growing portfolio of communications companies. In fact, rumours abound that London-based direct marketing and advertising agency Kitcatt Nohr may be next – interesting how Photon snapped up an experiential agency first.

Larry Deutsch: A passion for experiential

Why Deutsch made the shift
The fact that this is now happening on both sides of the Atlantic makes it all the more compelling. So why did Deutsch move to Jack Morton from one of the most prominent ad agencies on the planet? And it wasn’t simply to work in experiential, as his role was managing director of OgilvyAction, where his team had created award-winning experiential campaigns for the likes of Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, Unilever, Quaker Oats, Boeing and Motorola, including the StudioMoto tour, which earned Event Marketer magazine’s Grand EX Award in 2007.

Perhaps he doubted Ogilvy’s true commitment to the discipline.

“If there’s one word that describes my move over to a specialist experiential agency, its passion,” says Deutsch. “My background embraces consultancy, working on the client side and managing agencies, and recently I’ve been inspired by experiential work, while recognising the growth in the discipline and the opportunity that presents.

“Many advertising and marketing agencies simply touch on or dabble in experiential. Jack Morton has a truly experiential vision and is firmly committed to growth and development.”

Following the smart money
Deutsch is also convinced more and more money is being invested in the discipline at the expense of others.

“In the US, the marketing dollars are shifting towards experiential, drawing new talent and skills into the industry,” he says. “In a more fragmented media world, the role of experiential is growing. Many agencies simply pay lip service to experiential, but clients are looking to hire the best in class. They no longer want one agency to do it all. They want real creativity, expertise and knowledge.”

The influx of such marketing talent and experience is sure to enrich the live marketing industry and Deutsch is clear about what he can bring to Jack Morton.

“I believe that I can help put experiential into an integrated context,” he says. “I also bring an ad agency’s discipline and rigour in planning and consumer insight, to help dig deeper into the target audience to find the most appropriate experience.”

Deutsch’s final comment perfectly sums up the state of the industry. When asked if he will find his new role a challenge compared to the cut and thrust of an ad agency, he replies: “Experiential is an area where the bar keeps getting raised; where experiential marketing is increasingly becoming the core part of marketing strategy.”

Related articles
MEDIA SHIFT: Why PCI Fitch's MD went experiential

MEDIA SHIFT: Why Victoria Biggs swapped online for experiential

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