Alexander Jutkowitz, chief executive of Truffle Pig – the joint content venture by WPP, Daily Mail and Snapchat – tells M&M Global about his plans to reinvent the agency.
The industry’s annual gathering at Cannes is known for its cacophony of celebrity selfies, raucous parties and clinking of rose glasses.
Spirits are high and attention spans are low, so companies are forced to parade the likes of Kim Kardashian and Marilyn Manson to gain even the most meagre of column inches. This made it all the more surprising that the talk of La Croisette this summer was the launch of a new agency.
Announced in the Cannes sunshine by three industry superstars – WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell, Daily Mail North America CEO Jon Steinberg and Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel – the aim of Truffle Pig is to do no less than reinvent the agency through a combination of marketing, newsroom and social media talent.
As Daily Mail’s Steinberg – the original architect of the project – quipped at the time of the launch, “A truffle pig finds the rare and tasty. With the need for story-driven marketing on our sites and those of other media companies, and new ad formats like Snapchat, brands need a truffle pig.”
Three months on from that moment, Truffle Pig chief executive Alexander Jutkowitz – also the boss of US-based digital content specialist Group SJR – will address delegates at the Festival of Media LatAm in Miami about the agency’s progress to date, and its aim to decode complexity for clients.
‘One year ahead’
Based in New York, Truffle Pig is now 15-strong and growing. Go-to-market strategies are being devised, and a roster of preferred publisher partners being assembled. At the heart of the agency is a promise to get clients to be “one year ahead of everyone else”, Jutkowitz tells M&M Global.
“I truly believe this is changing the way that agencies are constructed and bring their ideas to the world,” he says. “Part of being a good agency is having lots of different forces colliding together. We have that tension already present because of our partners, and because Snapchat itself is such a thriving, disruptive platform.”
“I truly believe this is changing the way that agencies are constructed and bring their ideas to the world”
For all of WPP’s global credibility and MailOnline’s enormous audience, it is undoubtedly the involvement of Snapchat that has ensured the greater level of attention and scrutiny. The social platform is in the midst of making its own high-profile journey towards monetisation, with advertisers and agencies closely watching every step of the way.
Jutkowitz argues that proximity to Snapchat will help both Truffle Pig and its clients understand the future of social media marketing: “Being at the table in a real partnership [with Snapchat] means having a better sense of the roadmap, and where the journey is going.”
It also means a focus on one of the hottest topics in digital marketing right now: vertical video view. What Snapchat has helped rise to prominence has become a bone of contention for the media industry. Is the future of online video vertical? Jutkowitz certainly believes so, and Truffle Pig will offer its clients use of Snapchat’s “3V” video production space in Los Angeles.
“First and foremost, vertical video is here to stay,” he says. “Snapchat has brought it to the world organically, which is always the best way. It hasn’t been forced down anyone’s throats. It actually makes sense, and that is a very attractive proposition.”
As well as online video, Truffle Pig will explore the content possibilities of new channels and technologies. “Take virtual reality (VR),” says Jutkowitz. “It is not a question that VR should be engaged with; it is a fact. How do we come at it best? That is the question we are asking. We are as much an incubator of ideas as we are part of the process.”
Content vs advertising?
The bigger question is the extent to which brands will divert media budgets away from tried-and-tested advertising formats, and towards digital content experimentation. Early adopters may see the benefits of a vertical video campaign, or a VR experience, but what is the greater potential for content marketing to dominate marketing plans?
“I’m loath to call for the end of advertising because advertising has been around long before I was born, and I suspect it will be around long after. That being said, there is a content-filled void,” insists Jutkowitz.
“I’m not here to burn the village; the village is just being reshuffled”
“Advertising is content, as is social, but there is a content mid-point for which there is a thirst. Ultimately, the way to do it is to have regular, consistent, significant amounts of content. Is that advertising? Sure, that’s an element. I’m not here to burn the village; the village is just being reshuffled.”
Some will argue that Truffle Pig is a fad, itself backed by a flash-in-the-pan social media platform – they will say this year’s Cannes hype will be soon forgotten. On the agency’s long term future, Jutkowitz is philosophical: “I’ve been doing this long enough to know that where I think it’s going to go, and where it actually goes, are two different things.”
However, he believes that the unique nature of the business, with its foundations built on giants of the advertising and media landscape, allow it to shift and evolve sufficiently to keep ahead of the curve. “The market forces are changing constantly, the marketing stack has changed, and through our DNA we are designed to be adaptive,” he says.
“We are not beholden to any pathway of doing something – Truffle Pig is a living, breathing, best practice and innovation hub.”
Alexander Jutkowitz will be speaking at the Festival of Media LatAm 2015 at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Miami. Click here for more details, and information on how to attend.