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We’re not an ad agency but a disruption company: Chris Garbutt, Global CCO, TBWA

In an interview with BestMediaInfo, Garbutt said TBWA doesn't believe in conventions but in creating ideas that shift the culture altogether. He said the work coming out of India is reflecting the same thought

Chris Garbutt

TBWA may not be as large as Ogilvy or BBDO in terms of size but the agency is producing some path-breaking work from its offices across the globe, that's even being recognised at Cannes.

Chris Garbutt, Global CCO at TBWA, said he doesn't want TBWA to be just an ad agency but a much bigger company in the next two-three years.

“We don’t consider ourselves as a traditional network. We think ourselves as radically open creative collective in the world. We don’t think of ourselves as an advertising agency, but a disruption company. Every day when we wake up and go to work, we go to work to disrupt conventions and find platform ideas that really shift cultures and the work coming out of India truly does that,” Garbutt told BestMediaInfo in an interview.

TBWA India won the Grand Prix for Good in the Healthcare category at Cannes.

Garbutt said that the agency has set up 200 cultural hubs across the world to keep a tab on the changing culture and internet trends. He said that these hubs inspire the creative teams to think of new-age ideas. “Backslash is our culture-spotting network that we have set up globally. We have got 200 culture spots that shoot content everyday about trends and culture. We built a whole library of content, which is a way to inspire the creatives to think of new-age ideas to connect with the audiences,” he said.

Recognising the growing importance of content in marketing, Garbutt said, “Content is the centre of gravity where everything is going actually. Content allows us creative people to think of longer format storytelling, brand narratives and entertaining engaging ways to pull audiences into deeper and meaningful relationships.”

Excerpts:

What are your comments on TBWA\India winning Grand Prix for Good in the Healthcare category?

When I first started working at TBWA 3.5 years ago, the first thing we did was a creative gang meeting in Mumbai and that was my first experience with the agency in India. They are the most incredible bunch of people. They have gone from strength to strength and I am so proud of him. I am very proud to say that they are so ambitious to reach the new heights of creativity.

You have shifted from a large-sized agency, Ogilvy, to a small-sized agency. How has the shift been for you? Do you see any difference?

There is a huge difference. At TBWA, we have a creative-led culture and it is everything for us. We don’t consider ourselves as a traditional network. We think ourselves as radically opened creative collective in the world. We don’t think of ourselves as an advertising agency but a disruption company. Every day when we wake up and go to work, we go to work to disrupt conventions and find platform ideas that really shift cultures and the work coming out of India truly does that.

Where would you rank your India office globally?

The rankings change all the time depending on these kinds of results. India before probably ranked in the top 20-30s. Until Friday, the ranking might change. I would consider India as our extremely creative partner.

Would you consider yourself a small or mid-sized agency?

We are not as big as BBDO and Ogilvy. So, it’s hard to compete against them in terms of points. We don’t want to play the numbers’ game. We want to be the agency that collectively creates culturally the most iconic work.

What is your forte: art or copy?

At this stage, all the skill sets mix together. I started off as a graphic designer then went into art direction. Now I am a creative director.

What is your strength among print, radio, films and mobile?

I don’t think I have mastered everything. Cannes is a good opportunity to re-calibrate and re-invent. The creatives that are going to survive going forward are the ones who are open to new technology and new ways of connecting to audiences. I am so excited about new media, content and data.

How difficult and easy has it been to adapt to new media for you?

Because I am surrounded by amazingly talented people and we learn from them every day. We have got fantastic practices at TBWA. For example, Backslash is a culture-spotting network that we have set up globally. We have got 200 culture spots that shoot content everyday about trends and culture. We build a whole library of content, which is a way to inspire the creatives to think of new-age ideas to connect with the audiences.

What are your comments on the changing trend of communication where content is taking the centre stage everywhere?

What is really exciting about the world today is that everything is converging and there are no buckets and silos anymore. Even some of Grand Prix, which were print, came from integrated ideas. Content is the centre of gravity where everything is going actually. Content allows us creative people to think of longer format storytelling, brand narratives and entertaining engaging ways to pull audiences into deeper and meaningful relationships.

Why do we see very few innovations in outdoor?

I don’t agree with your statement. We are seeing a lot of changes in outdoor. We are seeing a lot of technology ideas in outdoor.

Where would we see TBWA in the next 2-3 years? Have you put forward any long and short-term goals for the agency?

This is a very exciting time and all about reinvention. We will be reinventing a new model of marketing. We will be a much bigger company than just being an advertising agency. We will be a disruption company.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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