Industry told to embrace digital

BBH's John Hegarty takes stand at the IAB Conference and calls for a fresh approach from creatives.

Creative departments must fundamentally change the way they are structured in order to make the most of internet advertising, according to Bartle Bogle Hegarty's worldwide creative director, John Hegarty.

Hegarty told a packed audience at the Internet Advertising Bureau's Engage Conference on Tuesday that agencies need to recognise that ideas and inspiration can now "come from anywhere".

Hegarty also questioned the strength of existing insight into online consumption. Laying down the gauntlet to the industry, he said: "The big question for the digital creative community is: Do we really understand how people are consuming this new media, and are we really creating brand-building work yet?"

Cautioning against inactivity, Hegarty went on to call for a fresh approach from the industry towards digital media. With a nod to his company's own foray into the virtual world - it recently opened an office inside the online game Second Life - he claimed the advertising industry needs to turn the current approach on its head. "Most advertising operates under the conventional culture of 'learn and do'. I think we are now in a culture of 'do and learn'," he said.

In a wide-ranging speech, Hegarty also unveiled his "ten lessons of engagement". These included assertions such as "the internet is not a gag medium" - a comment aimed at the high levels of excitement surrounding internet virals. "Just because someone passes it on, doesn't necessarily mean it's of value," he added.

Earlier in the day, fellow headline speaker Terry Semel, the chief executive and chairman of Yahoo!, claimed online's growth potential was still being underestimated.

Meanwhile, BSkyB's chief executive, James Murdoch, criticised advertisers that haven't fully integrated online into their communications.

Comment, page 36.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).