Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Some Time: Agency Spin-Off Makes Some For Creatives

At a time when much of Madison Avenue is trying to figure out how to use computer science to make what it does better, or at least more productive, the creative department would seem to be the least likely candidate for an ad technology overhaul, because, well, creativity isn’t an exact science, right? Well that hasn’t stopped one agency from spinning off a new product it believes will make at least one part of the creative process -- communication -- more scientifically efficient, saving creatives hours of lost time, and Madison Avenue billions of dollars in lost productivity.

“Millions upon millions of dollars are lost in wasted labor costs each year, because creative people are making changes and doing the wrong things based on miscommunication,” asserts Bryan Boettger, who until recently was Chief Creative Officer of The Buddy Group, but is now the CEO of Reevuit, which the agency incubated and spun off to use digital technology to improve the way creatives share and communicate their work with others.



As the creative chief of the Irvine, CA shop he helped found, Boettger learned first hand how frustrating and wasteful such miscommunication is to the creative process, so he and the Buddy team created a platform to improve it, and make some money in the process.

The platform itself is simple, a cloud-based collaborative sharing tool that incorporates all of the existing tools agencies already utilize to manage their creative workflow and share image-based creative assets and iterations with the people inside and outside their organization who approve it, especially clients. Think of it as a meta platform for using other tools like PDFs, Dropbox, photos, videos, layouts and designs that are the visual basis of a final campaign. The beauty of the platform, says Boettger, is that everyone can look at it at the same time, in real-time, and comment on and get feedback without the normal back-and-forth that can lead to wasted time and labor as creatives draft new versions that never intended to be.

How much waste? Well, Boettger has a number for that too, and it’s a pretty big one. After calculating the percentage of time wasted in the creative miscommunication process and multiplying it by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for the creative workforce, Boettger estimates it adds up to about $1.083 billion in wasted labor costs on Madison Avenue, and a total of $2.029 billion when you add in related industries such as graphic design and industrial design.

In fact, the Reevuit team believes the platform could ultimately be used to help fuel the new “maker” economy, including a new long-tail of creation being fueled by everything from crowd-funding to crowd-sourcing to makerbots. But he’s starting with the ad business, because it’s what the Reevuit team understands best, and it already has two shops signed on as beta users, including Lousiville, CO-based Sketchfolio.

Boettger says Reevuit operates independently of Buddy Group, but that the agency incubated it as part of an effort to use its own creativity -- and digital technology chops -- to diversify its revenue stream.

“Most agencies make a good part of their revenue off of media-buying, but they’re trying to find other models from the new economy,” he explains. “We started by looking across a broad range of the marketplace to find holes we could fill.”

One early concept Buddy began developing, but quickly abandoned, because Boettger says it wasn’t the right fit, was an app it prototyped that would enable event consumers to click on maps to see the views from their seats before they purchased their tickets.

“We decided it was not right for us,” he recalls, adding that Reevuit made sense because of the agency’s personal connection to, and frustration with the miscommunication in the creative process. “No one wants to be creating some that’s for naught.”

While Reevuit won’t necessarily facilitate the Big Idea, and it won’t replace the human interaction of scribbling on the back of cocktail napkins, etc., it will make the real-time communication of the creative review process faster, more efficient, and most importantly, ensure that all the important stakeholders are on the same page.

As part of its research and development, the Reevuit team conducted an online survey of creatives and marketing professionals to determine what methods of providing creative feedback, edits and other changes were most preferred. Interestingly -- but perhaps not surprisingly -- most people (85%) still prefer in-person communication, followed by email (62%). What may be more surprising, is how much people dislike another time-honored method of communicating creative ideas: the telephone. More than a third (35%) of respondents disliked or hated using the phone to communicate creative ideas, followed closely behind by paper (31%).

Preferred Methods Of Providing Creative Feedback, Edits, Changes


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Source: Reevuitstat survey of 100 marketing, branding, creative pros.

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