When she was the Global CMO of IPG Mediabrands, if Liz Ross had suggested creating a client advertising campaign that quickly disappears, she might have been shown the door. But as the President and CEO of Periscope, that concept has been a smash success in the independent agency’s work for Trolli gummy candies.
Periscope’s groundbreaking work using Snapchat for Trolli is a good example of what Ross describes as the need to “unlearn” what she had learned in the holding company world. What better way to do that than with the ephemeral Snapchat?
“As a marketer, it’s hard to wrap your brain around the idea that you’re going to launch something and it’s going to vanish. But that’s exactly what happens,” Ross says in an interview with Beet.TV. “One of the things we’re doing with our clients and employees is encouraging everybody. You gotta try this stuff. You gotta use it. You can’t just intellectualize it, you can’t read a white paper on it.”
Trolli’s partnership with NBA star James Harden was aimed at tweens and included geo targeting. Snapchat now uses it as a case study of how best to use its platform. “It was really edgy work,” Ross says.
Going from one of the largest industry holding companies to an independent agency in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area required a complete mental reset for Ross. “The best thing I can tell you is that I spent my career inside of a holding company and I’ve almost had to unlearn what I knew,” she says.
Inside of a holding company, “You’re part of a team and the construct is all about mitigating risk. In an independent, we can formulate it in a way that we believe makes sense to answer client needs,” says Ross.
Before the digital advertising age, large agencies would boast about their clout when it came to negotiating media buys, while small shops claimed they could get great deals because of their size. Interestingly, that theme still applies.
“We can actually make deals from a media buying standpoint that we believe the holding companies have a harder time striking,” Ross explains. “Because once they give that deal to WPP or Omnicom, they end up having to give that deal to everyone.”
The same reasoning—size isn’t everything—also applies to data and technology, according to Ross.
“If you look at what the holding companies have done, they have built those trading desk solutions on the backs of third-party software. We can do that too. The barriers to entry are quite low,” says Ross.
One of her favorite citations is from futurist Alvin Toffler about how the illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
“We are in this age where you have to keep learning and unlearning, and that’s exactly what I’ve had to do as an independent,” says Ross.