I was lucky enough to attend the Clios conference, I will probably be very lucky enough to attend Cannes this year as well. And right now I'm sitting in a little side room while the global company I work for has a summit about one of it's key accounts. (I will be giving a little speech in a bit.) At all of these events (Cannes will no doubt be the same) the "how" on everyone's lips has been about this still rapidly changing industry and "how to adjust the formula to succeed".
R/GA have "a formula", Crispin has "a formula", but they'll be the first to admit, there is no formula. There are elements that these companies find are useful some of the time but typically every famous campaign from 2008 comes from a mish-mash of influences, personalities, luck, craziness, chaos, genius and lots of hard work, brave thinking and confident sell. I'm surprised at how similar all the outcomes are in their final thinking, considering how diverse the methods must have been to achieve them.
So I sit here typing away while a guy from finance discusses the bit of the "How" related to "how the hell do we get paid for being so clever". If there is ever a time that a large process driven agency is going to suffer because of process. It's now. There is no bankable formula for success that the finance and account guys insist on. It comes down to smart, agile teams that are pushed hard by big-thinking leaders. I've said this before (with the rest of the world), it's all about the creative product. Which big process driven agencies like the one I work for are not geared to do across all accounts. It's a scary near-future.
This years theme is driven by Fear. The unknown is bad for business projections I guess.