April 13, 2010

Tom Bedecarre's Handwriting


By Wendy McHale

The pencil is a most personal piece of mobile technology. It puts the point of expression into your very hand, to sharpen, erase, scribble, doodle, draw and/or sketch out all the brilliant, passionate, mediocre and/or silly ideas in your mind.

You can use it to scratch a hard-to-reach itch in your ear (eraser-side-only, kids) and it doesn't complain when you chew on it. In fact pencils are so user-friendly that they make you feel a little bit better even when you're mad enough and break one!

But now we're in the digital age. Who thinks pencils are useful anymore when a keyboard does the same job, if not better? AKQA does.

But it's not their point that counts; they see themselves as the pencil sharpener. Their desk job is to help clients be as sharp as they can be, so they can tell the story in the brand's own way.

Check out AKQA's site to see how they use one of their own writing utensils as a guide. It'll connect the dots for you.

AKQA is helping marketers connect the dots on a global level, drawing "Agency of the Year" awards on both sides of the Atlantic for the last two years, consecutively.


Today we find Madison Avenue agenciopolis' trying hard to find the cheapest route to go from A to B. They believe that the solution is in the technology. Their focus on generating ROI (some say more for themselves than for their clients) is what's making them hold-on too tight. It's their need to connect the digits in the quest to write new business that's added to their writer's cramp.

What about the personal side of technology?

Since almost all new media begins its life with a you-know-what (not necessarily a table napkin), we thought, who would be better to explain the power of the written word in the digital age than Tom Bedecarre!

Leading up to ad:tech, we got AKQA's Chief Executive Officer to write down how technology affects his clients' lives, their customers and him personally, by hand. BTW: In checking his paper we didn't see any eraser marks!


Journal: How is your business, through the use of new technologies and practices, improving the lives of consumers? If so, where? Is this something you regularly ask yourself, and if not, how come?

Tom: "Everything we do at AKQA is for our client's consumers, so we're always looking for ways to entertain, inspire, inform and educate consumers. In addition, we're fortunate to help our clients with customer service and e-commerce activities which help make consumers' lives much more convenient".


Journal: How much of what we do is driven by the desire to improve people's lives versus a desire to make money? Are they the same? Where do/don't they cross?

Tom: "AKQA was founded by entrepreneurs and is still managed by entrepreneurs. Our experience is that successful business people don't start out with the sole desire to make money. It's not about making money for the sake of it – it's about finding a business problem that needs solving. I think if you look at business success stories, you will find people solving problems that improve people's lives and that making money is a by-product of that".


Journal: How does our industry technology change/improve/affect people's lives?

Tom: "We are in the ideas business which means that a lot of our ideas turn into great businesses that positively affect people's lives. Just look at all of the information, commerce, community and creativity unlocked by our industry. AKQA has been an innovator for more than a decade. For example, eleven years ago we developed a service for an automobile company that helped people find used cars on the web. This was the first such service of its kind in the world and there are now many thousands of these services".


Journal: On a personal level, how does this technology help you personally?

Tom: "Technology helps me stay in contact with my family and colleagues around the world, which is handy as I'm always traveling to AKQA offices in New York, London and Shanghai. I also like having access to information and services on-demand wherever I go".


Journal: If the focus on ROI has been a driver for many people, how can we illuminate the personal side of the new media business?

Tom: "We must focus on the personal side of the business because the Web 2.0 is all about personalization and social networks and avatars and user generated content. How can any brand be successful if they don't focus on creating immersive experiences which connect their brands to consumers on a personal level"?


Journal: How long have you been involved in the industry? How many ad:tech events have you attended? What are you most excited about at ad:tech San Francisco?

Tom: "I have been in advertising for 25 years, starting at Ogilvy & Mather in New York. My experience with interactive marketing goes back almost 10 years, as the agency I co-founded, Citron Haligman Bedecarre, started to shift our focus to the web. I have attended a number of ad:tech events, but I am most excited about having so many friends in the industry visiting San Francisco, my hometown, and the personal networking opportunities at every ad:tech event".


Thanks, Tom!

Got anything you'd like to share about how technology affects you personally, email me at Wendy@MadisonAvenueConsultants.com and let me help you tell your story.

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