I caught a piece from Wired last year about R/GA Director of Business Strategy Jess Greenwood’s take on how the transformation economy (or, as some call it, the experience economy) will shift advertising as we know it.  While I tend to roll my eyes at the never-ending list of things that “shift advertising as we know it”, I did appreciate her insistence on the growing significance of the brand experienceover the brand message:
“Brands have done this whole selling experiences thing for a long time — the idea that if you buy this toothpaste it will change your life. This is a way to be different, to [actually] change your life”

Greenwood goes on to reference a number of innovative marketing initiatives that forgo paying lip service to their beliefs and actually put their beliefs on display in physical ways (including a certain Red Bull stunt we praised over here). Her reasonings for this movement are readily available in any of this blog’s writings, but one fresh topic can be found in her concluding sentiment: a call for agencies to carve out a role for a Chief Experience Officer.

We’re not talking UX, folks – this is off the screen, face to face, brand engagement of all kinds.  This is a role that explores not only how a person might receive information from Facebook or a commercial, but how a person naturally interacts with a brand in each facet of their daily lives (you know, the times you are open and receptive to product information – not when you’re stalking friends or waiting for It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia to come back on).

This isn’t an entirely novel concept, of course, but it is popping up more and more.  Early adopters led the charge years ago (Crispin Porter’s OuterActive division comes to mind) but now many agencies are finding themselves drawn to Greenwood’s mandate (the most notable recent example is W+K, who is setting renowned ECD John Jay free to create his own experience-building partner shop Garage).  With this developing interest in the experience at the executive level, you can rest assured the trickle down effect will be significant.

Perhaps significant enough to (gasp) shift advertising as we know it.