Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hegarty's got bite but does he still have vision

As I begin to finally recover from my Singha beer hangover and the memories of my first trip to Pattaya for AdFest come rushing back, I can now recall the lasting presence - good or bad - that Sir John Hegarty left on the festival.

He was jury president for many of the big awards on offer, such as the Lotus Roots, Film, Radio, Innova, and 360 Lotus, and it was good to see an advertising legend, which Hegarty is, judging work from our region.

But a few things struck me about him during the festival which were that(1) Hegarty still has the aura about him of being one of the world's most famous creative and (2) The man knows how to make great ads but (3) Is he slightly out of touch with today's market?

There's no real need for me to question (1) and (2) - those are facts and it would be pointless for me to argue otherwise. But point (3) is what I want to discuss.

In a room packed full with ad men (and there were plenty of presentations played out to a quarter filled room at AdFest, so Hegarty still has that drawing power) he gave a presentation on the seven basic principles he thought the creative industry needed to consider to succeed.

It was a clear and concise presentation with some great old ads BBH had done in the past mixed in with some new ones like the Audi ad fresh off the production line.

My only problem with the presentation was that it felt a bit old-world. And this nagging feeling was seemingly backed up moments later by the CEO of a competing agency who commented to me that his ideas seemed "outdated".

As a journalist you're trained to be objective and it should be noted that the basis of this post came from Hegarty's reaction to a question posed by another journalist on of ours in fact (Matt Eaton, editor of Hong Kong Marketing and blogger on The Pitch Hong Kong) at a press conference shortly after Hegarty's talk.

In response to a question on whether digital is the place the industry is heading... with reference to waning popularity of TV, Hegarty said the industry had lost the fight against the new digital paradigm.

But when the journalist said, "actually cant you say the opposite? That the industry is taking up the fight and going where people are consuming media?" - he ranted on about how industry journalists were perpetuating some sort of myth about digital and the death of TV. It felt a little defensive.

It's long been unpopular to question the 'black sheep' but there it is but what do you guys think?


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