She is one of the top global leaders in the world but still confesses that she won’t pay a dollar to subscribe to the premium services of popular apps. When asked why, Susan Credle, CCO Global, FCB, was quick to reply, “Advertising pays our company’s bills after all, I will always take the ads.” A simplistic reply that speaks volumes about how seriously she takes her profession.
In a candid chat at Cannes Lions with Neeta Nair, Associate Editor, Impact, Credle talks about what led to creating FCB 2.0, the logic behind setting up three agencies in India, and why the world should get back to doing some advertising that saves the business more than the world.
FCB yesterday managed 27 shortlists, and has in the past three years had a fantastic run at Cannes Lions after 58-plus years of returning with no metal. What would you attribute this newfound success to?
First of all, FCB is not an isolated agency, we are a part of a team. I met Swati when I started at FCB. Swati is a force, Robbie is wonderful too. We are also building the next generation in Surjo and Keegan. I remember, we needed a CCO in India, I met Swati at an awards show and knew she is the right person for the role. As a woman, I feel compelled to lift women up. So, I said to her, ‘all you need to do is to say yes and take the job’. And then she blew me away. She comes up with beautiful humane ideas. People like her ideas and help her out. We do this for everybody else too. If we see ideas, the team surrounds it and helps. So, you actually get more than your team in India, you get FCB Global.
I have always had a creative partner. It used to be Fred Levron, who's at Dentsu. But I have a wonderful human being, Danilo Boer who is now in that position.
Which is that one campaign from India that you are betting on?
In India, there are three pieces running right now. Chatpat is doing well. Unbox me is doing okay. And then we have the Nominate Me Selfie. They took women and taught them how to use cellphones and social media to get to the Parliament. I think, 20-plus women were elected by doing that and Swati won’t stop until it is 50-50.
In Cannes Lions, over the past several years, the campaigns that really stood out like The Next Rembrandt, or Sick Beats, have a very strong digital element. Do you think that’s really where the world is moving too?
Well, I would say that Sick Beats is an innovation. I love the fact that we are becoming an industry that can lead to innovation. That makes our industry attractive.
So, in a sense, it’s technological innovation. Is there no space for just pureplay creativity in advertising anymore?
Yes, but I don't think it's about losing something. It's just adding another element to the mix.
A few months ago, you divided FCB in India into three agencies. What was the reason?
I think some of it was about giving space to people and talent to lead. I used to say, ‘Is your agency starting to look like a high school where the seniors never graduate?’ You need to make space for talent to lead. Otherwise, they will leave. It’s lead or leave, right? Also, to give the client a chemistry that would be the best fit for him/her.
FCB has largely been considered a very traditionally oriented agency. Your comments?
When I say I am traditional, it does not mean I am only about TV, Radio, and Outdoor creative. It would be a disservice to the agency to call it that. I would say being traditional is more about how to build a brand, keep and respect it, understand it and then to apply that to wherever the brand is going to show up. You should be fairly agile about what you create for the brand.
Is there a plan to take giant strides in digital in India. After all, you recently partnered with Kinnect? Also, will you go on to acquire Kinnect?
If we look at America, we messed up very badly by trying to say that digital is a specialist thing. It's not. Eventually, you will be doing digital if you're in advertising. I think it's a mistake to separate things. We're already seeing articles about metaverse. I read something a couple of weeks ago and was like, ‘please don't make this a specialist agency space’. People will try, but eventually, they will come back because marketing and advertising weren’t created in a media space. It was created in a space of solving problems in a creative way.
As far as acquiring Kinnect is concerned, we’ll continue to invest in it and we have the support of IPG. I think Rohan and Chandni are wonderful people and it's a very good investment.
This year, what is the campaign that you are really betting on?
I'm a huge fan of dyslexic thinking and I love McEnroe versus McEnroe, which was a big, crazy idea that the client and the creatives held hands on and worked on. This is a never-before-seen way to do a lifetime achievement documentary. I love Chatpat too. It's so nice to see money being raised for the children in the streets, where you see the humanity and smile.
What big trends have you seen at Cannes this year?
I think the works that we are awarding are all about saving the world. We need to get back to doing some advertising that saves the business as well. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be doing that kind of work (saving the world). But I think that we are getting too caught up in that. What I have heard from juries is that they are awarding the cause not the creative. I believe, we should not reward the strategy, we should reward the creative instead.