Raahil Chopra
Sep 26, 2014

Spikes Asia 2014: "Facebook is not your new television channel" - DDB's Amir Kassaei

The global chief creative officer spoke about what a brand needs to do to be successful in the future, technology, what DDB thinks its job is, and more…

Spikes Asia 2014:

Speaking on Day Three at Spikes Asia 2014, Amir Kassaei, global chief creative officer, DDB Worldwide, said the job of a professional in advertising was not about creating context, telling stories, or looking for data, but about creating relevance.

DDB's role as an organisation in the world of marketing, was to build 'the most influential brands', said Kassaei. Touching upon technology, he quipped, "People in our industry are coming up with buzz words which make them feel they’re experts.”

A clip from comedian Louis CK followed.

“What is happening with kids (in this video) now is what’s happening with brands. Anyone who believes there is something called ‘social media’ should stop talking. Facebook is not a social media. It’s just a platform to connect. In the next 20 years we’ll reach an age where everything is connected. You won’t need a device to enter digital because everything will be digital and connected. People will start knowing more in real-time and that’s bad news for Google (as people won’t need to search). If people know everything, then there’s no scope for bullshitting and that is bad news for marketers.” he added.

“At DDB we believe that to be successful in the future you need to be a brand which has a brand network and to build brands with influence. It is easy for us to do this in the future because ever since the foundation of the company we wanted to create the relevant truth about brands,” said Kassaei.

Creativity + Humanity + Technology = Influence

Kassaei cited a formula of creative 'Influence = Creativity + Humanity + Technology'. He elaborated on each of the factors.

Creativity: 'It’s not about creating funky work but work that provides the most innovative solution for the brand.'

Humanity: 'There should be respect shown towards humanity.'

Technology: 'It’s just a tool. It cannot replace the idea or purpose. We are not in the advertising business, we are in the business of doing something relevant.'

He followed this with a piece of the work that covers the above factors.

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The creative head touched upon buzz words like ‘context’, ‘big data’ and ‘storytelling’.

Referring to the oft-repeated 'Big data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it,' Kassaei, said: “Our job is not creating context, telling stories or anything about big data. Our job is about creating relevance. Yes, we are trying to filter data.”

He cited an example of data sources messing up. Listening to Jeep's blues on Spotify, which connects to Facebbok. led to a 'suggested ad' on Facebook which showed he was interested in a blue-coloured Jeep, recalled Kassaei.

What ensued was his take on 'digital'. “Digital is not a media. It’s infrastructure. If you treat it that way you’re tackling it in a totally different way. Facebook is not your new television channel,” said DDB’s global chief creative officer.

This was followed by a case study of work done for Heineken in Amsterdam.

Heineken Ignite


“The challenge for the above experiment is how can you monetise that. We want to own this technology and license it. Otherwise we’re doing work for less money.”

He then showed another case film, this for Johnson & Johnson. On this he said, “The best advertising does not look like advertising.”

Create relevance, not awareness

Brands need to create relevance, said Kassaeim as against awareness. He argued that for creatives, the focus should be on recognition in the market place rather than award shows.

The much-awaited session ended with a piece of work for Harvey Nichols, that won at Cannes Lions 2014.

He surmised, “Refocus on the main purpose which is creativity + humanity + technology = influence.”


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