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Faris Yakob – Being Awesome

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Imagine that a billionaire wants to start a new global holding company and brings you in. What does the agency of the future look like and how might you approach building one if given unlimited resources?

That’s an interesting question—the fresh start is always appealing, the idea that you can start with a new beginning.

The agency by its nature doesn’t make anything. What I mean by that is agencies are kind of intermediaries that germinate and broker the production of solutions. In a sense, the agency model is really robust because you can make any kind of solution. The challenge is that they are used to making specific kinds of content units as solutions to all problems, and so a lot of the thinking gets kind of linear that way.

You want to start with a group of people that have a relevant set of diversities, bringing all types of things to the table without an inherent creative hierarchy. One of the challenges of agencies is that the creative department has a large amount of weight purely based on their opinions. You want to start with a group of relevant people that have different elements of content and solution-development—tools, utilities, software-type thinkers as well— and then I wouldn’t segregate them out necessarily into different tribes of production specializations.

brands create massive actions that function like advertising—actions like sending a man into space and getting him to jump out of a satellite with a parachute. And then tools…tools can be all kinds of things. Anything that helps make anyone’s life a little bit better can function to create attention and function like advertising historically did, but in a different type of way

I think the model we’re moving towards in terms of an “agency of the future” is two-sided, and you can look at it through the lens of experiences and stories. The campaign model is a certain kind of solution to certain types of problems and it is still very relevant in lots of situations, but advertising and content are two sides of the same idea. Advertising tends to be by its nature very promotional. Content tends to be something that people choose to engage with, so thinking about the allocation of attention and how you either apply it or earn depending on the needs is quite important.

On the other side, there are what might be called actions and tools— brands have massive scale and can provide solutions to people above and beyond what their products can do, and it is into that space that I think we are moving. So, brands create massive actions that function like advertising—actions like sending a man into space and getting him to jump out of a satellite with a parachute. And then tools. People tend to think of tools as software and utilities. I think tools can be all kinds of things. Anything that helps make anyone’s life a little bit better can function to create attention and function like advertising historically did, but in a different type of way.

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Faris Yakob – Founder GeniusSteals, ex-Chief Innovation Officer MDC

Faris Yakob is a strategist, writer, public speaker, creative director and the founder of GeniusSteals, a planning and innovation consultancy. Previously he was Chief Innovation Officer of MDC and founding partner of Spies&Assassins, the creative technology boutique. Before that he was Chief Digital Officer at McCann Erickson NYC, and Head of Digital Strategy at Naked Communications. He was named one of the most respected planners in the world by The Planning Survey, and one of 10 modern-day Madmen by Fast Company.

He writes on technology, media, brands and creativity for a variety of publications including FastCompany and he wrote the first chapter of Digital State: How the Internet Changes Everything, just published by Kogan Page. He is lucky enough to be invited to speak all over the world.

You can find him online @faris and www.GeniusSteals.Co