As advertising adapts to the digital age, new players are supplementing the traditional design and copy teams of the Mad Men era.

Technologists and customer experience professionals are taking positions on the new starting lineups. This poses new questions that we must consider.

How does this new team make-up affect the traditional advertising model that relies heavily on the “big idea?”

Is the big idea now a smaller part of the equation or is it even bigger now as ideas become empowered by their digital incarnations?

The Modern Agency

Today, an agency's digital prowess can be measured by observing how they proceed in developing big ideas for brands. Does your agency go back to the playbook of old, where the design and copy team works behind closed doors? Or are the full creative and customer experience teams engaged?

If big ideas are continually treated as the domain of art and copy alone, and customer experience is only engaged when digital tactics are initiated, then your agency is missing the boat. Failing to empower their ideas is something nobody can afford, considering the inherent advantages of the digital age where customers are always connected in an omni-channel universe.

If your agency only turns to its CX resources when embarking on Web or application development it's missing the big picture and hamstringing itself by not adapting. Today's CX professionals can contribute as much on any creative campaign project as designers, art directors, creative directors, or copywriters. The team is larger for a reason and all members should be leveraged. This applies to all projects, whether tactical or conceptual.

Customer Experience Strategy

While some creative directors may tend to view their CX team as a resource to call when there’s a tactical problem, in reality the CX person is less tactical than the typical design or copy person. CX is generally more strategic and focused on the big picture.

A conceptual branding or positioning project is more about the brand experience and the relationship between brand and customer than a copy and design print piece or an ad lob. In any conceptual project the full CCX team should be engaged and the CX players should not be viewed as simply craftsman for interface design.

The big idea of old paired an art and copy team together to concept and ultimately deliver static ad lobs. While these are still valuable pieces that can be used to capture the essence of a concept, we are no longer limited to their confines. It is likely that the big idea for a brand today may need more than a headline, a tagline, and a visual.

Some concepts require, or at least benefit from, a longer form deliverable such as a video or interactive piece. In many cases the old ad lob may still be the vehicle of choice to get an early concept across, but this does not mean that the old art and copy team will suffice. The omni-channel age requires that even old school ad lobs be vetted and enhanced by the addition of the customer experience professional.

CX owns the overall customer/brand relationship. These are the individuals tasked with framing the big picture. It is within this big picture that a new idea will live and need be integrated. They are not only positioned well to join in early concepting but should also be at the table along with art and copy to ensure concepts work with the larger brand experience.

Here are some questions that should be considered by a modern agency:

  • Does the concept lend itself to the omni-channel universe?
  • Does it have legs in this universe?
  • Can the concept carry through to the mobile experience?
  • Does it work with the existing brand and customer relationship?
  • How will a new concept alter the existing dynamic?


Advertising and marketing teams need to consider a host of factors that simply did not exist in the age of Draper. Fortunately, as the industry has evolved so, too, have creative skillsets and organizational structures. Agencies now employ CX resources, but the question is have they been able to break out of old habits and integrate these teams into their everyday offerings?

The big idea of old now shares the stage with a new range of experience considerations. It is no longer a solo show. It's now an ensemble performance. The big idea can be even bigger and more powerful, but has your agency progressed enough to embrace these new realities? If not, are you stuck in agency models where art and copy teams pretend the world hasn't changed and the role of the CX Designer is limited to web and application channels?


Image of Don Draper courtesy AMC.