Hybrid isn't just a car. It's also the new job description on Madison Avenue.
Ad spending is on pace to fall by as much as 10% this year, leading the industry to shed 10% to 15% of its workforce.
As ad businesses have shrunk, survivors are doing more with less and blurring the lines between who does what, from writing ads and developing content to strategy and placing ads.
Some found that stimulated creativity. "It's forcing everybody to think in a fresh new way and to maximize every single dime," says Mark Tutssel, global chief creative officer at Leo Burnett Worldwide.
But there won't be as much celebrating of that creativity this year at the ad industry's most prestigious annual award show — the week-long 56th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival that begins in earnest Monday. Attendance, which topped 10,000 last year, is down 40%; entries are off about 20%. That has led some to question its relevance in the current times, but not Tutssel.
"Cannes still has a role to play," says Tutssel, a Cannes veteran and former judge here. "Cannes is about education and inspiration and, if used properly, you go there to learn and be inspired."
On display this year will be 22,600 entries from 86 countries. They will compete for honors in the 11 categories that include film (on TV, cinema or the Web), digital, print and outdoor ads, as well as sales promotions and media strategy. Public relations was added this year. More than 200 judges from around the world, including 27 from the U.S., will review the work.
Among the entries are campaigns for Burger King by Crispin Porter + Bogusky. That agency, a perennial Cannes winner, had a hybrid mentality long before the recession made it cool.
"One of the several mantras we have with Crispin is: 'We don't have a job, we have work to do,' " says Russ Klein, Burger King president of global marketing. "Everyone should be looking at what needs to get done, not looking at their job description."
The agency also looks at marketing as a top-to-bottom effort.
"Crispin is at the table almost from the get-go, from naming products to developing packaging," says Klein. "They've even done our employee handbook."
This year, Crispin is in the awards hunt with two very different Burger King campaigns:
•"Sacrifice," an online social-networking effort offering free Whoppers to people who delisted 10 friends at Facebook.
•"Whopper Virgins," filmed ads featuring people in remote places having their first taste of a Whopper.
Now more agencies operate the Crispin way. Euro RSCG, for instance, consolidated 24 companies into 10 in Chicago and New York in the past 18 months. That helped Euro post double-digit revenue gains last year, says Ron Bess, president at Euro's North America offices, which handle advertising for Kraft and Volvo.
"Whatever a client needs is handled in a hybrid account," says Bess. "We can get it done more efficiently and more effectively because we can look at the business more holistically."
Having numerous people from different disciplines — digital, TV, design — work on an ad campaign can help an agency develop a more integrated marketing message. But it requires opening up communication in the organization so that everyone knows what's going on.
At DDB, offices for Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle have been consolidated into one regional office, DDB West.
"We now have cross-functional teams that go across geographies," says Lisa Bennett, DDB West's chief creative officer.
The office helped Clorox stage a "Reverse Graffiti" stunt to promote its Green Works eco-product line. A graffiti artist used Green Works cleaning products to create nature images on dirty urban walls. A creative team that included digital and public relations staff filmed the stunt as a documentary and posted it on social-media sites.