Innovation must be at heart of agency, says AMV BBDO's Johnny Spindler

Innovation roles should be placed at the heart of ad agencies to support the creative teams, according to Johnny Spindler, the chief innovation officer at AMV BBDO.

Johnny Spindler: the chief innovation officer at AMV BBDO
Johnny Spindler: the chief innovation officer at AMV BBDO

Speaking at the Innovation Stories conference in East London this morning, he said he is "not a huge fan" of innovation labs.

Spindler said: "I’ve always thought of my role as in the middle of the agency rather than edge of an agency. [Shops are full of] creative people who have been coming up with new things even before the word innovation came around.

"I’m not a huge fan of labs. By definition it implies there’re people here to do innovation and then connecting that into the business is another job, so innovation roles should be sat in the middle. I see my role as a support."

Alex Jenkins, the editor of quarterly B2B magazine Contagious, said the "future could be quite bleak" because people looking to work in innovation will move out of the industry to work at Google or Snapchat, for example, especially as clients are starting to cut budgets.

However Spindler disagreed and said: "We’ve managed to survive in not losing talent to film directing or TV.

"It feels exciting to jump to technology companies, but I don’t know anyone who has left to work on a Google project, but instead they’re selling YouTube pre-rolls. Are there enough jobs?

"[I wouldn’t leave my job] unless someone said, ‘Do you want to work on the next Android app?', which I won't be able to do because I’m not a product designer. I’m in the most creative job I can be."

During the panel discussion Spindler added that people should remember that innovation roles are commercial. He said at AMV BBDO it is about how tools can be used to help grow the agency and help clients to grow business.

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