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Interview: Sir John Hegarty, Chairman & Worldwide Creative Director, BBH

“There’s nothing as wastage. Every message out there goes to the consumers!”, opines Sir John Hegarty in conversation with Neha S of

It is said- “Save the best for last”, and Sir John Hegarty’s session at the Goafest 2011, made the proverbial true. A veteran in his field, the founder of the one of the most biggest and acknowledged advertising agency in the world-Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) left the audience amused with his fine creative eye over the years. He also showcased some of his crème la crème work in the past like the 'Keep Walking' for Johnnie Walker campaign, 'Vorsprung durch Technik' for Audi and the ‘Axe’ campaign.

While he rushed after the session, Neha S of caught up with him to further probe and read his mind over his thoughts on the nuances of the ad world. Here are the excerpts:

Q) You bought notice to the fact that off lately agencies have been realising that consumer are in control. But that have been the scenario all over the time. Why a sudden realisation? The old model died years ago that people would not perceive the good work. Agencies say that people are in control but consumers have always been in control. If they turned off their TV, they turned off their mind. Consumers can cut you off, so that’s the point that how you go to these things which make them notice things and engage their social mind.

Q) How do advertisers employ technology to its effective use? It’s basically how you engage with that technology. Technology is just a tool. Like I love and adore cinema but I never actually step into a movie hall for a bad film. Thus we have got to stop being obsessed with technology and ideas. Ideas are what that changes the world, ideas are what convert, ideas are what persuade people and then you got an array of technology. Technology has always been there but how we effectively convert it to our benefit is the whole idea.

Q) But when do agencies differentiate the thin line between persuasion and promotion? They got to stop because brands are made by the combination of both and stop believing that persuasion is promotion or vice versa. Promotion is promotion, it doesn’t covert in believing the consumers that this is what we believe. If you are giving something free that’s great, for those in the market but for those who are not in the market? Where’s your future market is gonna come from?

Q) But then how at BBH, do you make sure of it? We understand the difference. We try and make understand our clients, and encourage them and make sure that they are investing in persuasion also as they do in promotion. But then you got to understand clients are limited in their investments in these things. But then it’s easy also because they just look on the internet and say that they have invested this much and here is the result. But the trouble is that the world is full of think counters and not thinkers.  They are outsmarted by digital agencies as they haven’t persuaded the bigger audience. There’s nothing as wastage. Every message that goes out there is an opportunity for more and more people to see and understand the brand. Look at the big companies. They all are made by visionaries.

Q) So does the quest of making consumer’s experience little upsets everything? We are heroes for client and but when they go to the market they don’t realise that little experience for the consumers spoils everything. Clients do not stay long enough for the result of their thinking, they cut down cost and don’t realise it’s a gradual process. Thus some brands die. But it’s the duty of both the clients as well the agency, which is why I always believe in the power of fame.

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