MIAMI – Screens are screens and platforms are platforms, but they are worthless without great creative ideas, according to the agency that gave the world Steven Tyler screeching for Skittles and the music-driven Jeep “4X4ever” spots during this year’s Super Bowl.

Having run Internet advertising agency Tribal Worldwide back in the day, DDB Chicago CEO Paul Gunning admits to being old enough to have been on Myspace. So the whiz-bang consumer tech arms wars don’t really impress him.

“Today’s environment doesn’t seem new to me at all. What’s remained constant is you have to have a great creative idea,” Gunning says while attending the annual Transformation conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

DDB won plaudits for both the Skittles and Jeep campaigns. For Jeep, the agency commissioned an original song by a relatively unknown artist (Morgan Dorr) to celebrate the brand’s 75th anniversary and propel it forward, as opposed to simply offering an historical retrospective. “And it really resonated with Jeep owners. Jeep sales have been very strong since the game because it’s a strong brand and that kind of work resonates with people who like Jeep,” Gunning says.

He believes that creating great work begins by thinking outside of the 30-second box and making sure the creative is unique to its own platform, be it display or Snapchat.

“The work has to be literally cut different. It has to be malleable, if you will,” says Gunning.

To his chagrin, too many agencies don’t steer their talent acquisition efforts behind the technical side of the business, according to Gunning, who says DDB is “relentless right now in finding the best creative” to hire.

Asked about what he’s looking for most during the Upfront season, Gunning zeroes in on program integration. “Clearly the ability to take a brand and weave it into the story line is a unique way to expose consumers to a brand,” Gunning says. “It can be highly impactful. So we’re working with some of the content creators to try and make that happen.”

This video was recorded at the 4A’s Transformation conference in Miami. For additional interviews, please visit this page. Beet.TV’s coverage of the 4A’s was sponsored by The Trade Desk.

4A's Transformation 2016 Miami, presented by The Trade Desk