James Governor's Monkchips

JWT: An Ad Agency That Gets It At A Glance

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I don’t know a great deal about JWT other than they are a global agency pitching for the Sainsbury account in the UK. But i do know what i like, and the company’s new web site says some smart things.

“We passionately believe advertising has a future but only if we stop interrupting what people are interested in and BE what people are interested in.

Time is the new currency and the audience is the new client.  We need to create work that people choose to spend time with.”

Sounds like the human inforouter should give the agency a call about attention.xml. And no, Steve links are not the currency – isn’t it our attention and our time that have the value. Or am i missing something? The flipside–people have been known to trade links on blogrolls; but the chaff will get separated. Maybe JWT would invest in attention?

JWT’s insight is not just relevant to advertising….

We passionately believe [insert your content-oriented industry here] has a future but only if we stop interrupting what people are interested in and BE what people are interested in.

Time is the new currency and [our] audience is the new client.  We need to create work that people choose to spend time with.”

I hope JWT will thus be advising its clients to avoid digital rights management; DRM interrupts what people are interested in…

JWT does well by sharing its information. Rather than just talking about time and attention the firm is willing to share the fruits of research supporting the idea. That is what i call making a contribution. In the Contribution Society participating wins points from a lot of influencers that matter.

Here’s a question:

Given a notional $1,000 Time Wallet with which to spend $1 (U.S.) or £1 (U.K.) a minute on 40 different activities, American men allocated the largest portion of their money, $117, to having passionate sex, while American women invested a much cooler $48. British men put passionate sex at the top of their shopping lists, too, but allocated just £88 to it, which was still ahead of the £52 their female compatriots set aside.  

Go here if you want to download the whole study. JWT could have kept the research proprietary for its clients and pitches. It didn’t. It’s living its own pitch then, to some degree, which bodes pretty well for the firm. One last thing – a global firm should do global research. I already have a pretty good idea of Anglo-American priorities. I want to know how Japanese see work life balance, or Indians, Chinese. JWT UK is doing its bit  – i think this design-led approach to showing off customer references is quite refreshing.

On the other hand – where is the RSS, folks? Aren’t any of you reading Scoble? Is someone going to get fired? Certainly some bloggers don’t believe in the the new brand exercise.

For a history of how JWT went from stodgy to something else is this Wired article.

The JWT survey even asks how much attention we give to reading, a question Stephen has been pondering.

Something that will surprise none of us, but we should probably all try and change – ascribe more of our time to reading email than having sex- and that is in our “ideal world”. If we can just chuck out the telly and email we’ll be in good shape… Kathy says so. TV damages our attention glands. What’s coming next, on the other hand, the participation age, may exercise them.

[If JWT would like a quick and dirty consultation on how RSS can put your strategy on steroids then please contact us. You are on the verge of breaking out into entirely new conversations which will benefit the company. You deserve it. Of course no major shakeup of a company happens overnight, particularly when you are just one part of a greater empire, but you have to start somewhere. Well done silver fox.]

JWT does have a couple more steps to take in understanding and driving the attention economy from what i can see at a glance, and if you know more about the company’s decision to become more conversational please let me know. Authentic or not?




  1. There’s a lot of it about: media agencies are starting to say they “get it” when they don’t appear to get it 100%.

    Carat, for example, is another major firm which wants to appear like they understand conversation marketing – they just launched “blog starter kits.” Carat says it wants to teach its clients how to set up a blog, how to monitor what others are saying about them on blogs and how to advertise on blogs.

    But just like JWT, there’s no RSS feed from Carat.

    Rather than say “all talk and no trousers,” maybe we should be encouraged by this change in the language being used by the major firms. The big clients listen to Carat and JWT and if they start to hear Carat saying “blog” and JWT saying “conversation” then that will herald a long overdue sea change by the majors.

    What disturbs me about this trend is that ignorant clients will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for what the average Joe Blog has created for the price of a Typepad subscription.

    It was ever thus.

  2. “Maybe JWT would invest in attention?” I don’t think it could have been said better.


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