menu

Interview With Russell Davies, Ex Of Nike

Interview With Russell Davies, Ex Of Nike
Advertising
Guy Brighton
  • 15 june 2006

Looking back on your time with Nike – what did you take away from your time there?

I’ve learned more in the last year than the previous 20. Nike is full of incredibly interesting people. And being that side of the fence teaches shows you all the dumb things you’ve been doing all your career. You learn that outside agencies, however close they ‘partner’, can never know as much as the people inside the business. And pretending otherwise is pointless. I’ve realised that the really important skills are not to do with brands or marketing or whatever; they’re to do with people. If you’re good with people you can learn the rest, if you’re not good with people you’re screwed.

So, what did you think Nike learned from you?

I’m not sure what Nike learned from me. Probably not a ton. Maybe the chief thing was the value of internal blogging. We built a couple of blogs inside the network and they seem to be working really well.

Has working within a huge international brand changed your philosophy about brands and marketing?

I’ve learned that most of the elegant, refined brand theories I’ve been positing for the past hundred years just evaporate when exposed to the real world of getting things done in organizations. So I think it’s helped me come up with more robust thoughts about getting ideas into the world. And it’s become very clear to me that using words like ‘positing’ and ‘robust’ just annoys people.

I’ve discovered tons more respect for the people who have to corral, inspire, manage and create international marketing campaigns. It’s way, way harder than the people on the outside think.

I’ve learned that an ounce of clarity and direction is worth a ton of insight and cleverness.

I should probably have known these things anyway, but it’s hard to really understand this stuff until you’re inside.

We seem to be going through a huge cultural shift driven primarily by technology. How does an international brand keep up with these changes? What crucial challenges do brands face in the next year or so.

Technology is helping to weed out the weak brands. And by weak I mean uninteresting, unhelpful, disrespectful or irrelevant. Technology means we can just weave our way past them. I like that technology can help small brands compete with big ones – they’re all international now and that makes everyone better. And the crucial challenge for brands is working out how to be less controlling and more influential.

With your work at Nike and your view on the consumer environment – do you think the services that marketing agencies need to deliver has changed? Are agencies rising to the challenge?

I’m not sure Nike is a typical example so these thoughts aren’t necessarily based on that, but more on the world we’ve all been watching the last few years.

But yes, agencies have to change and no, they’re mostly not rising to the challenge.

Look at the way that ‘design’ is being seen as the king of corporate innovation. There’s no intrinsic reason why this should be so; their creative people aren’t necessarily more creative than the ones in ad agencies, their strategists aren’t smarter, their billing systems aren’t more efficient. But they’ve spent the last 30 years being Not Madison Avenue, just like Honda, Toyota and Nissan were Not Detroit. Design businesses have been diligent, interesting and helpful whereas Big Advertising has been greedy, slothful and complacent. And now everyone with anything to do with advertising is paying a kind of Madison Avenue Penalty. Even the good, interesting, innovative agencies.

We may be just starting to edge into the land of Agency 2.0, but we all know things don’t start working properly until you get to version 3.1. I think that’ll take a while.

Talking about agencies, gossip has it that they might have a spare desk for you to work from at your old haunt, W+K London… will it be just a desk?

Yup. It’s just a desk. Actually I suspect it’s just a chair. And access to the photocopier. In return for the odd bit of work on stuff. It’s a barter thing, it’s the future. They’re very kind.

How will your other projects fair in this time – the online planning school, the books, the blogs?

I feel like I’ve just been playing at all that so far, so I want to try and do them properly. Before you know it the Account Planning School of the Web will have a massive bureaucracy and a graduation ceremony with speeches and the throwing of hats.

Finally, do you think we’re spotting a trend here: the rise of a mercenary army of rogue marketing professionals – sometimes working independently at times, other times teaming up for larger projects? Doesn’t anyone want a proper job anymore?? ;)

Yes. I think marketing Ronin are the future. They’re a big part of how Agency 3.1 will probably work. Come join our merry quest. Who needs a regular income, free pencils and healthcare? Hmm…

Thank you.

From today, Russell can be found at his blog, We’re As Disappointed As You Are

Advertising
Trending

PSFK's Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Brand Development
Media & Publishing Yesterday

CNN Launched An Entire Drone Division Of Their News Network

CNN AIR incorporates aerial footage into the corporation's ongoing news coverage

Advertising Yesterday

Uber’s Breathalyzer Cards Let You Know If You Are Sober Enough To Drive

A new campaign from the ride-sharing service raises awareness about the importance of a safe trip home

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Work

See All
Design Yesterday

Milk Proteins Could Be The Packaging Material Of The Future

A newly discovered casein-based alternative is biodegradable, sustainable and even edible

Technology Yesterday

Intel’s New System Will Help Technology See And Understand The World

Joule is a tiny board for developers designed to bring powerful computer vision to cheap and easy-to-make prototypes

Design Yesterday

This LA Hotel Is Designed Specifically For Cocktail Drinkers

The Walker Inn is a new Los Angeles "Bed and Beverage" experience that offers guests an intimate setting for their night cap

Education Yesterday

Bringing Virtual Reality And Telepresence Robotics To E-Learning

This Learning Management System is embracing new technologies to reallocate teaching resources to where they should be going

Advertising Yesterday

Interactive Art Exhibition For Dogs Provides Endless Fun

Installations created by artist Dominic Wilcox are based on activities loved by canines, such as fetching tennis balls and splashing in water

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 23, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs august 24, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: The Annual Review Becomes An Everyday, Collaborative Activity

Our Future of Work vision is a web-based platform through which teams can collaborate on and monitor performance reviews across all channels, ensuring a happier workplace

Beauty Yesterday

Design Your Own Custom Watch Faces

Customize your wrist device with Garmin's new app that lets you display personalized images or patterns

Syndicated Yesterday

How The Olympics Taught Us Lessons In Cloud Analytics

Dan Vesset, group VP for analytics and information management at IDC, tells how cloud-based business analytics support decision-making

Beauty Yesterday

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Artist Shuts Down Sexist Comments By Turning Them Into Images

Rora Blue explores social stigma in a photo series titled 'Handle With Care'

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Kanebo's latest addition to the Evita line includes an application that dispenses cleanser in the shape of a flower

PSFK LABS REPORT

Innovation Debrief: Boston
Business Concepts Born In 'The Hub'
AVAILABLE NOW

Mobile Yesterday

Twitter Bot Will Warn You If You Are A Troll

An online tool developed out of Intel's Hack Harassment movement helps filter out or notify cyber bullies

Retail Yesterday

Passengers Can Now Earn Airline Miles For Sharing Their Location Data

The Frequent Flyer app measures background data and gives travelers points that can be exchanged for tickets with participating airlines

Advertising Yesterday

The NBA Is Releasing Two Original Shows To Stream On Twitter

The sports league announced a deal that demonstrates an interesting expansion of its content strategy

No search results found.