Yusuf Chuku prepares to moderate 4A’s StratFest panel
The head of Strategic Services in our New York office, Yusuf Chuku, is heading to Nashville this weekend to moderate a panel at the 4A’s Strategy Festival next Monday, October 28. We asked him a few questions about the festival and the panel before he packed his carry-on.
Q: The theme for this year’s conference is “Strategy &.” What does that mean to you and how do you “plus” or “&” your role as head of Strategic Services at McKinney?
The days of planners locking themselves away for a couple of weeks and then emerging with a strategy carved in stone are over. Agencies now produce what can only be described as dynamic ideas — ideas that people can interact with, play and shape. I must ensure that the strategy process is both collaborative and agile, with planners able to effectively employ a number of competencies from data analytics and user experience to media and technology.
Q: The panel you’re moderating is called “Strategy & Research.” Who is on the panel and what can those in the room expect to hear?
What we create as advertising agencies has drastically changed. Academia has made huge leaps in understanding consumer motivation and behavior, yet marketing research appears unchanged. I plan to challenge the panel of senior research company executives on how their companies are not only responding to these changes but also how they plan to lead change. We will also touch on some issue that have always existed, a prime example being the often-heard claim that research kills great ideas by either boxing in creativity too early or smothering creativity through quant testing.
The panelists are Ann Green, Senior Partner Corporate Innovation and Solutions at Millward Brown; Alex Hunt, EVP at Brainjuicer North America; and Jenna Lauer, Managing Partner at Hall & Partners.
Q: What big trend in strategy right now do you think will be heavily talked about at this year’s festival?
One of the things I love about planners is that we are the only discipline that continually questions our own existence. As such, this year we will again look to redefine what strategy is today. This will be shaped with conversation around how we create, measure and optimize ideas.
Q: The 4A’s chose to have the 2013 conference in Nashville. That place is swarming with musicians. What could they, and those of us not living strategy day to day, take away from this year’s theme?
I think it’s more important for us to learn from great musicians. Unlike the advertising industry where people tend to stay within their discipline or area of expertise, great musicians often do the opposite. They explore and experiment with new genres and often defy classification. They’re curious and open. It’s no coincidence that new genres of music seem to be born on a weekly basis. Planners and strategists, creatives and producers, everyone in advertising could benefit from similar experimentation.
Learn more about StratFest here.