“You have a big budget that buys you the right to yell the loudest [but] where are you if you don’t have a large marketing budget?  Marketers need options that don’t break the bottom line.”

Today’s Ad Industry Innovator, Claudia Batten hails from Victors & Spoils. Victors & Spoils is a new agency Claudia founded with partners Evan Fry and John Winsor from Crispin Porter & Bogusky.  The big news, besides their bench being A-team advertising super heroes, is that V&S is based on the principles of crowdsourcing. “We plan to prove that crowdsourcing can be expanded from what we know now into a scalable, manageable and strategic approach to advertising” Batten says.

The merits and flaws of crowdsourcing have been debated all over the web but I was more interested in hearing directly from the source:

What was the aha moment when you realized “our company needs to be doing things differently than we have been?”

Everyday, don’t you think?  I think it’s dangerous to ever think you have it 100% right.  Victors & Spoils launched about three months ago with the mantra that we would deliver a new ad agency model, so we really are setting out to do things differently.  Ultimately we are trying to solve some of the issues we believe to exist in the application of crowdsourcing to Big-Brand Marketing or Advertising Strategy.  I guess the aha moment here is the belief that the rise in digitally savvy consumers, combined with a need for reduction in operating costs from Big-Brands (with marketing budgets being immediate targets), would create room for a new model in the advertising agency world.

What books are on your nightstand or great blogs on your Google reader?

I am reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, and The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach … but I also have a pile of fashion mags too if that helps me redeem myself.  The Diamond Cutter is a great take on how to be generous in your life and business, which is something I am passionate about.  The former – I just love Hemmingway.  Blogs, well there are a lot but I have to say I am more into Twitter at the moment; faster pace and more relevant.  I am trying to get better at posting myself, but I find that I’m too busy reading.

Give me an example of marketing you think is brilliant and why.

I am really into gilt.com right now – super clever.  There are many smart aspects to it, from the fact you don’t sign up to the site but ask for your application to be considered (so snobby, but it does makes it feel that little bit more exclusive, or maybe I am just an easy target) to the fact that they have timed sales, so you are motivated to log in at a certain time each day.  But most clever, to me, is the limited amount of items they have at one time.  You have this pressure to purchase.  It’s just smart – they have figured out their demographic beautifully.

We’ve all read that the pitch / RFP process is broken.  Many agencies aren’t even interested in competing in pitches.  Do you see an alternative to this process?

Well from what we see I think there are a few forces at work. First up, we are moving in a much faster pace and rapidly changing world, so RFPs can start to feel irrelevant as soon as they go out the agency door. In addition, I think we are all so busy these days working on actual work, there’s definitely a resistance to switching gears to go through the somewhat agonizing process of responding to an RFP. However, with procurement and financial departments getting more involved in marketing decisions, there is definitely still going to be a desire for compliance overall and some form of benchmarking for what a brand is spending with agencies. So I would offer that the process is just now really changing shape as both agencies and marketers realize that the current version isn’t working, and there might well be experimentation with several alternatives before either side is happy with the outcome.

What does the agency of the future look like?

Victors & Spoils.  I have to say that.  We do believe it though, if we do our job right.   I think what is key is to help brands connect with their consumers in a more cost-effective way.  I think the future is in having conversations with your customer – like two-way conversations, where you listen and stuff.  Novel, huh?

What do marketers need that agencies are not giving them?

What I hear a lot is that you either have a big budget that buys you the right to yell the loudest, or you need a large budget so your agency can come up with some super-smart “no one’s come up with it before” solution so you can break through all the yellers.  So where are you if you don’t have a large marketing budget?  Marketers need options that don’t break the bottom line.

Who do I admire and why?

I recently moved to Boulder, Colorado and when I look up at the immense mountains I live below and realize what the pioneers must have gone through to get here, its pretty humbling.  I really admire any version of that kind of pioneer and there are still people taking huge risks and embarking into the unknown. I find it hard not to respect that.  Maybe it’s coming from New Zealand, our founders sailed around the world to the promise of a new beginning.  I wish I was actually that gutsy or, lets face it, that hard-working!


EDITOR’S NOTE: Claudia is only the second woman to appear on this series and that needs to change. I wanted to track down Anne Bologna but we all know that sad story. If anyone knows Mary Wells, Nancy Hill or Natasha Jakubowski, let me know. Click here to nominate your favorite female Ad Executive–the testosterone is thick in here and the diversity is down, so help me out readers.

Hitch is a consultancy that helps marketers hire the right ad agency.