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New Technology and a New Generation

This issue is dedicated to the impact that interactive technology is having on the development of new creative. The range of topics goes from the challenges of training, hiring, and managing new talent to designing products in a consumer-responsive environment.

The first essay is by Professor Deborah Morrison from the University of Oregon. As one of the most well-respected trainers of young creative talent for the market communications profession, Professor Morrison has worked with several generations of youth as they have prepared themselves for the creative environment, especially in advertising agencies. Her essay, with its praise for the attitudes of the new generation and its forthright warnings against complacency, is a refreshing departure from the usual whining about the inadequacies of the young (at least in the eyes of their elders) and I am pleased to have this chance to publish such a view.

The second article reports a roundtable discussion at JWT. This discussion, which uses the development of the JetBlue campaign and the famous collaboration between JWT and US Poet Laureate Billy Collins as a point of departure, included Ty Montague and Rosemarie Ryan, Co-Presidents of JWT. The philosophy and practices they describe as part of their overall approach to both nurturing new talent and stimulating new creative with interactive technologies will likely seem controversial to some. Nevertheless, this approach is generally in keeping with the JWT philosophy established long ago by Helen Lansdowne and Stanley Resor—to emphasize the dialogue between advertising and the arts, despite the ideological differences that characterize the practices of each. Both the artistic achievements of the JWT staff featured here and the creative work that has come from the agency since Ryan and Montague have arrived argue for the effectiveness of this stance.

At the same time, many believe that the traditional full service agency structure and ethos is not adaptable to the new technologies; instead, they argue, the technologies and the people drawn to them demand a complete rethinking of both the work of producing market communications and the objectives to be achieved. In this arena, R/GA has been long established as a leader. In the third article, a roundtable among the top creative leaders at R/GA, Nick Law, Chloe Gotttlieb, Barry Wacksman, and Jay Zasa, a different philosophy of both creative development and personnel management is explained, one that would be even more radical to conventional industry thinkers. Outlined here is a perspective that would require a very different kind of client-agency interface than has been typical of this business for more than one hundred years, in addition to a very different organization for work and a radical departure in terms of consumer conceptualizations.

Both of the roundtables here offer a refreshing and detailed perspective on the new environment, much as does Professor Morrison’s opening essay. The last article, an original piece of research by Larry Garber, extends this new perspective by investigating the impact the current environment—which provides elaborate consumer feedback not only about messages but also about products—has on the practice of design.

As a whole, I think this issue will stimulate readers to think very differently about the way the advertising and marketing communications industry will operate in the future, as well as the way they analyze contemporary trajectories.

Linda M. Scott