Managing Marketing: Bridging The Divide Between Brand And Experience

sean lyons

Sean Lyons is the Global CEO at the IPG agency R/GA. For those of you that don’t know, R/GA is a creative technology agency and innovation consultancy headquartered in New York, with a global footprint R/GA was co-founded way back in 1977 by Bob Greenberg and his brother Richard as a digital assisted film making studio, but today is a leading technology innovation company for brands with breakthrough work for brands such as Nike, Beats by Dr Dre and today a portfolio of brands most agencies would envy.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Follow Managing Marketing on SoundcloudPodbean, Google Podcasts, TuneInStitcher, Spotify, Apple Podcast and Amazon Podcasts.

I think there’s this important thing for the industry, and I know you didn’t ask me this, but this is important; is to continue to learn all the new platforms, all the new media channels, and be really curious about going into those things and seeing what’s possible. And then the people who control those channels have to bring creative people in, bring creative thinkers in, so those things can happen.



Hi, I’m Darren Woolley, founder and CEO of TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultancy, and welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

Now, today, I’m sitting down with Sean Lyons, global CEO at the IPG agency, R/GA. For those of you who don’t know, R/GA is a creative technology agency and innovation consultancy, headquartered in New York City, with a global footprint.

R/GA was co-founded way back in 1977 by Bob Greenberg and his brother, Richard, as a digitally assisted filmmaking studio. But today, it’s evolved into a leading technology innovation company for brands with breakthrough work for Nike and Beats by Dr. Dre.

Today, it has a portfolio of brands that most agencies would envy. And at the head of that, I want to welcome Sean Lyons from New York City. Welcome, Sean.


Thank you, Darren. Thanks for having me on the podcast.


Look, R/GA has been an outstanding example of what happens when you redefine a category, and I’ll tell you why I say that. I noticed that on Wikipedia, you’re described as a digital agency, and I think while that’s a convenient pigeonhole; you are much more than a digital agency, aren’t you?


Yeah, absolutely. And the amazing thing about Wikipedia is that it’s crowd sourced. You get the crowd deciding who you are. We’ve always struggled to describe ourselves in one way.

I think at our heart, we’re a design and technology company. That goes back to the intro you talked about with Bob and his brother starting the company.

But this manifests into a couple of different services, and it includes brand design, advertising, and a customer experience side of the business. And each of those things has intersections with each other, which is what is quite powerful.

Also, we built them all organically. We haven’t rolled any agencies up. We haven’t bought any agencies. So, we’ve been able to maintain that culture and that consistency throughout time. So, that’s how I would describe it.


Now, it’s obviously a proposition that appeals to you, because you’ve invested a significant amount of your professional career working with R/GA, haven’t you? I mean, I think you joined them back in 2005?


I have. I’ve been here a long time, but I was there for 10 years. I left for a few and came back and at R/GA, we call that being a boomerang. And we’re proud of that actually, because you go out and you find out new things, you learn new things you didn’t know, you interact with different businesses and brands, and then you bring it back.

R/GA always felt like home to me, it really did. It felt like I just continued my education and my schooling in a commercial environment. So, I’m very proud and lucky to have been with this company for so long.


And that’s interesting that you brought up your education. What was the thinking that drew you to doing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Electronic Media? It’s just an interesting course. I’m seeing a young Sean sitting there going, “Hmm, of all the things I could go to and do at college, this is the one I want to do.” What was behind that?


Yeah, it almost sounds antiquated now when you think about it. But I’d love to tell you that it was my own genius that decided that. I have to give my father full credit for pushing me in that direction, really. I studied fine art for really 10 years from eight-years-old to 18 outside of schooling.

So, I would go to a studio art program for three hours for three days a week. So, I was learning to do painting, drawing, sculpting; all those things. I think he saw the opportunity to use my art skills, but really bring them into the new century.

And I went to Carnegie Mellon University, which had an incredible fine art program. But the fine art program at the time was run by a roboticist, which is an incredible opportunity to be trained under someone like that, and to be learning the fine arts mixed with computer programming early – very rudimentary robotics – and other things that exposed me to an entirely different world than I was used to.

I grew up in the ‘80s, but we didn’t have a computer in my house. We had a typewriter; my father was almost a Luddite, in a way. So, that was like an entirely new world for me, especially at the beginning of the commercial internet, because I went to college in the early to mid-90s.


Yeah. And look, it’s interesting as well, because I think the whole area of technology, people talk about how it changes, but also, the language around it changes. I remember, it used to be called interactive media before it ever became digital advertising or digital media, didn’t it?

It’s gone through many iterations, which is why I think even today you probably find it hard to actually define what you do because it sits on a basis of technology as an application, but definitely, has this human-centered design, and creative thinking, and strategy and a whole lot of things all rolled in together.


Yeah, it does. And I think over time what’s happened is, there’s  been a lot more specialization. Obviously, the language has been refined. A lot of the metaphors that we used to describe the internet: the “information super highway”, things like that — are gone and antiquated.

But they were required to give people an understanding of what it was and to describe it in a way that they understood. And then of course, the services and the skills that people had were described in similar ways.

So, I think the biggest change has been really – when you ride the wave, like the commercial internet, which then you have the mobile revolution on top of that, the social revolution on top of that, you end up having dozens upon dozens of experts, as you know. Think about the media business today and think about all the types of design that we have within the company.

So, yeah, that is the most interesting part, but that’s also the most complex part, is how do you build and cast teams for clients with that many different specialties, and how do you recruit and retain people of all those different types of skill sets? So, I think that that’s an everyday job for me, for sure.


Now, I don’t want to bring up an awkward or difficult question, but when you boomeranged back to R/GA, you ended up running the US business, which is significant. The US is the biggest advertising market  in the world, but then you were handed the chalice to be global CEO in 2019.

And almost straightaway, there was a once in a century global pandemic. And I just wanted to get your thinking around this, because it’s interesting talking to leaders about their thinking and approach of managing something that happens once in a century.


Yes, and I think I was lucky enough, and naive enough not to know that all these things would happen. And so, you take the role thinking about all the things you need to do, and the shoes you have to fill with Bob Greenberg, who’s your chairman and founder, and who I’m very close with still.

But really, what it was, was pretty incredible schooling. ctually, I’ll tell you because it forced me to make quicker decisions about what we should be doing in a crisis like that. It forced me to improve my communication with the company, and the frequency of the communication because of the immediacy of that challenge.

So, I’m thankful for it in a way, because I think it accelerated my growth as a leader, for sure. And it also allowed me to trust myself a lot more instead of second-guessing:What should we do? I had to really trust my team and my gut, and that was that, but (it was a) massive challenge as you know.

And for the entire world to be going through the same experience is completely unprecedented. And our clients were feeling the same thing, which was actually quite helpful. I think there were a lot more human connections made during that time with our clients because of the shared experience.


Well, your own example is of someone that’s managed a career with one company and getting opportunities to grow and expand your skill set with that company. I mean, apart from the boomerang, which I think is as you point out, a really positive thing.

During the pandemic, a lot of agencies saw a huge amount of churn and since then. Has that been a challenge for R/GA? And if so, how have you attracted or maintained your talent base?


It is a challenge. It’s a persistent challenge, I think, in the industry. And for us, I think what’s been unique about us over time, and I’ve learned to turn this into a positive for us in terms of the fact that R/GA is often one of the first places recruiters look for talent. I’m obviously proud of that because we have incredible talent, and we talk about ourselves as the Bauhaus of Silicon Valley.

So, how do you combine the creative and collaborative nature of the Bauhaus with the technology and know-how of Silicon Valley, which is very much needed in Silicon Valley, as we know. And a lot of the R/GA diaspora are the creative teams and leaders and producers inside of those companies. So, we’ve dealt with that a lot.

I would say, we also find that we are hiring those people back. Many of them often want to come back to R/GA, but also, to the industry we’re in, which actually provides so much … which we know, a variety (of) new problems every day. It’s not for everybody to deal with the ambiguity that we have to deal with every day. But a lot of people do choose to come back.

So, we have that. We also have very strong relationships with many different schools. I’m on the board of Parsons School of Design in New York. We have many people (from) SVA and SCAD and many other universities around the world that enable us to connect with talent very early on.

So, we’re creating an impression for R/GA through the schools as well. And then I would say lastly, as you know, the work is what drives clients to us. It’s also what drives talent to us. So, when you focus on that, you realize you’re going to be able to continue to attract the best talent and more of the best talent.


And it’s clear that R/GA is a talent driven business because I know many people that work with R/GA, and you create these opportunities across your network. A lot of network agencies talk about creating overseas opportunities for their employees but you guys, actually appear to live it. Is that a deliberate strategy?


It has become one. And I think in the beginning it was done out of necessity.  I remember we would send people from New York before we had other offices to help establish ourselves in other places. In the beginning, we thought those people could maybe run that office, but as you know, you need to combine your core DNA of the company with local talent. That’s essential.

So, it developed into a strategy, really. I think we’ve turned it into this concept called mobility, because what used to happen would be somebody in New York would end up working with the team in Sydney. They’d love this creative director that they’re working with, and they would speak to them on the side, almost like in a black-market way, to try to get them to move.

So, it was already happening. But when you think about it as mobility and it becomes a thing you can apply for, we can use it deliberately, and we can move people from one place to another, which is really an effective tool for us.

I think we’ve probably done about 90 different transfers this year to different places. And sometimes, those are moves within the U.S., but oftentimes they’re bigger moves. So, it’s a really important aspect of what we do, and I think that’s what keeps the consistency across the different offices we have.


It also does exactly what most people are trying to do, that cross-pollination, the collaboration that you build by actually putting people in other locations. And I also think at short circuits, I don’t know if it’s happening in the U.S., but should you work from home or should you come to the office or is there a hybrid model?

And I keep saying to people, what we need to do is just create options and flexibility for our employees, because they’re ultimately the value that is delivered by the company. So, why can’t we build something a bit more flexible?


Yeah, you’re absolutely right about that. And I think we embraced the flexibility that the pandemic actually created, and didn’t look at the office as a place where the work happened. The office can be an incredible place, but you can connect in many different ways, not just digitally. So, the idea is that you have to look at the office beyond being a container for people. You have to look at the company as that.

So, what are you doing as a company to enable that to happen? And in-person connection is a real part of that. That’s absolutely essential. So, I would say that would be key. I think the other thing that we find that makes this easier for us than others, is we’ve built software that we use to manage our teams and projects on our own.

So, we’ve had this software for many years and that allows us to easily manage the business that way. But also, the work that we do, driven by the clients, often requires a global team. So, really, let’s say 40% of the projects we do have two or more offices involved or two or more locations if you want to say that. So, even without going into the office, you still need to do this. You still need to create that connection.


Now just to go back to your first time at R/GA, it’s the first time that I actually had the experience of coming into the R/GA office in New York at the time, a different location to where you are now. And as soon as you walk through the gates and the big iron fence, you could get this feeling there was a real buzz about the place.

And I remember sitting down because it was part of the AdForum Consultant Summit. So, you had 30, 40 odd pitch consultants from around the world being bus chauffeured around New York City to various agencies, we’re talking 2007.

So, it was when most agencies were talking about digital as just more media channels. And yet, we sat down in R/GA and there was a presentation at the time. I think it was Nick Law, who’s an ex-pat Aussie living in New York and Barry and Bob, and I think you may have even been in the room. And the conversation was totally different to all of the other agencies that we’d seen, where you weren’t talking about technology as a channel, or digital as a channel.

You were talking about technology as a platform, where you could create customer experiences as opposed to storytelling, because almost everyone else was talking about telling the brand story through digital channels, whereas you guys were talking about customer experiences on digital platforms.

And some great examples that popped up around that time were obviously, the Nike+ Band and the Beats by Dr. Dre, headsets and things like that.

Where has that story gone? I’m using this as an opportunity for me to catch up with where that thinking’s gone, because at the time, it was revolutionary, and breakthrough, and fresh, and it made a lot of sense. But I’m sure as technology and the marketplace has evolved, your thinking around that’s also evolved.


Absolutely. And I think it’s funny you think about that time because we were not used to working with the AdForum and advertising consultants. We were a bit (like) misfits and a bit of an outsider. You might have noticed that. We prepared a lot for those, because it was really important for us to be able to tell our story in our own unique way.

I think a lot of what we have been doing really, since the beginning of the commercial internet, still remains true. I think some clients understand it, some don’t. When you look at the internet or digital technologies, just as a place to place your ads, you’re kind of losing 75% of its value or more, it’s not that. We know that. Now, it’s a big part of it.

It’s what you can do now, it’s how it’s been commercialized, we understand that. But it really has to be looked at from: What useful thing can I do for my customer through this channel or way? What utility can I provide? And if I can provide something, how do I provide something that’s different or better than my competitors? It has to be looked at as that.

And that’s what the early web taught us. That’s what mobile provided us with – all these platforms – too. The same thing is you start to think about the confusion and ambiguity again with what’s possible in the metaverse, and that really broad umbrella-term about that means. Similar discussions I was having again, at the beginning of the commercial web, and also, with early mobile: What can I do with that?

The first app you saw on the iPhone was that iBeer thing, where you would  tilt it and the beer would tilt with it. That was how those things were demonstrated. Now, think about the NFT craze and all these digital trinkets that are being put out there, that’s the version of that. There’ll be real depth and utility coming from those channels as well.

I think the biggest change has been the importance of having a connector, whether it’s an agency or someone inside the company or a philosophy to make sure that your physical experience and your digital experience, and your just overall customer experience is connected. Not from a data perspective, actually from a brand behavior perspective.

How do you show up on customer service? How do you show up in-store? How do you show up in a stadium? That system has to be really built on what we call a brand operating system. And that brand operating system has to permeate all those different pieces. And I think that’s really the bigger difference, and some of the technologies have changed.

I’m surprised; I’ll tell you that the knowledge has not grown as much as I thought in order to use these technologies in these new novel ways. I’m hoping that metaverse creates more of those opportunities, where there’s more invention happening within brands. And that’s a lot of what we try to do with them when we’re consulting on these projects.


But Sean, I think there’s still a lot of scope inside Web 2.0. I get your point about the metaverse creating more opportunities, but as you were explaining it then, I think a lot of organizations and especially a lot of CMOs find themselves with the title of Chief Marketing Officer.

But in actual fact, they really only have authority and control over communications. And so, they literally are reduced to having one lever to pull, which is the advertising or comms lever.

And customer experience, call centers will often fall outside their remit; distribution centers, the customer interface. Even I’ve known of some CMOs that have a huge e-commerce business, but they cannot influence beyond how the logo appears inside this online store to the customer experience.


That’s right.


It’s bizarre that organizations think so in such a siloed way that they’re missing all these opportunities.


It’s surprising that it hasn’t changed as much. And I was telling a team, we welcomed some new interns into the company about six weeks ago, we did it virtually. It was great, but I reminded them, I said, I think I ended up progressing in my career at R/GA because I was a really good communicator and translator between technical teams and creative teams.

Now, those creative teams could be marketers or they could be designers, but I was really good at that. And I was able to bridge the gap between (in the case of my early career at R/GA) the Nike technology team with the Nike marketing team and R/GA.

And I think that there’s times where you have to break down a team or a company into smaller parts, otherwise, it’s too big, and too bureaucratic. But I think they’re missing a trick by not combining services together. Most CMOs cannot handle that amount of work. It’s impossible. So, you do need multiple leaders to control this.

We often find that there’s a CMO and a CXO, or maybe not those titles; head of marketing, head of experience. And we have to kind of bridge the gap between those two, and we become the translators between those two. And that involves building trust with two organizations that have often very different goals, but they have a single customer in mind.

And I think that’s actually where we’re at our best, is when we’re in those situations because we understand both of those. We may be doing purely digital marketing and advertising, but we do understand the platform, so we’re able to kind of consult with the experience team to make sure that those lightning pages work, the experience we’re creating works or that they’re creating works. So, that role of translator cannot be underestimated.


Because there’s a lot of discussion in the industry around the importance of customer experience, and this idea of customer experience design is certainly a powerful one. But I often find its limited in its application.

I’ll give you an example; I had a major global beverage company come to us to talk about media, and they wanted to engage us to help them with the structure of their media arrangement.

And one of the first questions I asked is, “Of course, you’re talking about beyond paid, owned, earned, and shared.” And they went, “Oh no, no, that’s a totally … I’m not responsible for that. I’m only responsible for paid media.”

And I said, “Well, there’s half the value being lost because your own media, all of those assets that you invested in, all of the shared assets, all of those, you’re just completely ignoring.” I can imagine one of the roles that you’d find yourself playing as the agency for these clients is really acting as a connector for them across the organization.


Absolutely. And I think that’s what the modern lead agency does. And I think we’ve developed into that role through practice and through happenstance at times. And just as you described it, you were just describing even a more fragmented and complex ecosystem, which is the media ecosystem, and in all of its various components.

Now, that’s a whole other part of R/GA that’s new since you last spoke with us or have been there. I’ve built a media business over the past five years — not a traditional media business by any means. But what we realized is that if we’re developing work and developing ideas, they live in the context of media. We all understand that.

So, to better innovate in that space, we have to really understand those media platforms, the same way we understood the technology platforms to develop things like Nike ID, Nike+, and Beats and all that.

So, we built a pretty significant team. And what we found is we looked for opportunities to almost hack or break media platforms. And you look at the work we did with Reddit, we actually just launched some work with Reddit in Australia recently.

But the work we did for the Super Bowl two years ago in the U.S., we bought five-second spots locally across the country, which are on-air promo spots, which people know about if you’re in the media business.

And we used those five-second spots to disrupt the Super Bowl, and, and enable people to go on their phones and figure out what happened. So, that’s a media idea. That’s not a creative idea. You have to understand how media works to be able to do that.

So, I think there’s this important thing for the industry, and I know you didn’t ask me this, but this is important; is to continue to learn all the new platforms, all the new media channels, and be really curious about going into those things and seeing what’s possible. And then the people who control those channels have to bring creative people in, bring creative thinkers in so those things can happen.

The worst that can happen is you start hammering things down to three or four formats, and that’s how you deliver the ads, and the innovation’s gone. And I think that’s why we always look for those platform partners who want to experiment more, and clients that want to do more.


Well, your point about curiosity — curiosity is the source of innovation and creativity, isn’t it? Unless you’re curious, unless you constantly want to understand how things work. I always think Scott Hagadorn, who was at Omnicom Group; he and I had a conversation very early on about, as kids, we used to love pulling things to bit, and it’s that sign of childhood curiosity.

We both agreed that we very rarely got to put them back together, but at least, we knew how they came apart. And I think that’s such an important value because you often notice within organizations, the mindset of, well, that’s how it’s done here, is the point where you’ve given up on curiosity, because you’ve just accepted that that’s the way it is.

And sadly, I think we find that in a lot of big agencies as well, that size can often start to make people less curious, because just to control and manage these huge businesses can require command and control, rather than allowing people to just explore their opportunities. Is that something that you’ve actively encouraged at R/GA, is to keep that sort of sense of wonder and curiosity?


Yes, yes. Absolutely. I think we try to do it in indirect ways by saying: Be curious. So, there are ways to enable that to happen. There’s no process you can do to develop it, you just have to kind of create the environment for it. But you said two really interesting things. You talked about there’s a real tension between being an expert and being curious.

And so, expertise can shut out curiosity. And that’s a challenge when you have so many different experts in a company, and you need their expertise. But we find actually, where it comes from is when you put two different skill sets together, and let’s say, you don’t have this strict bias, let’s say, as an advertising agency to have the ECD lead the charge and lead the idea development.

If you do that, you need a really generous ECD to bring all the energy and all the creativity up. You actually have to have a little bit of tension between the creative teams you put together. And I say, “creative teams,” it could be a technologist. We’re doing a project for a very big entertainment company right now.

And we’ve paired experienced leads who are quite strategic with a pretty deep technologist who knows OpenGL, which is a web-based 3D model that you can develop 3D environments in. And that tension’s been interesting, and they’ve made the work better. And sometimes you just have to ask the right question, so they answer it. It takes time for them to build trust and the thing you said about scale is absolutely true.

We’ve tried to follow the Dunbar number, which is only one person could know 150 people. Not strictly, but we try to break down the big thing into smaller things, because if you don’t have the trust between the teams, you’re not going to get people to bring up ideas that may be shot down or pushed back on.

So, that’s another key element. That’s what’s so fascinating about this business, is that it’s quite fragile when you think of it that way, because you’re really creating these environments of people, but that’s also why it’s so unique. It’s why clients have a very hard time creating that environment inside of their own companies.

So, that intersection of talent is key, bringing in those new experts is key. And sometimes, pairing unlikely pairs is the way that we get to that.


Yeah, I love the idea of, you can always tell the creative and curious in an agency, because they’re not the ones sitting at their desk all day, they’re the ones wandering around, and they’re creating these … which is why working in office is so important on one level because you get these random interactions as you’re walking around, where suddenly, new ideas can come from two people from very different perspectives, suddenly start having a conversation.


Yes, that’s exactly right. And I think that’s the magic everybody looks for and wants to recreate. And you see teams in the company, go through 6, 12-month, 3-month spurts where they have that, and it might be a client that inspires that or a project or a certain team.

So, I try to keep the teams that do that together, obviously. And that often leads to how I build and cast leadership teams for a region. We look at the pairings and the kind of chemistry between everybody.


I love that idea of, you need some tension and some friction in a way, because I always use the metaphor of, oysters only produce pearls when a bit of sand gets in there and irritates the crap out of it. That’s where pearls come from.

And I often find myself explaining to clients, you don’t want the agency that is just compliant all the time. You want the one that causes that bit of friction because that’s where the pearls are going to come from.

This idea that we’re going to do these surveys to make sure that we’re happy with our agency. Well, you know whether you’re happy or not, but happiness is not the measure. Performance is the measure.

The whole reason that we’re in this is to actually create ideas and implement them in a way that drives performance. And if that means some irritation along the way, well, as long as you’re getting a handful of pearls out of it, you should be happy.


Yeah, that’s a really good metaphor, and it’s actually really, really true. And there’s a lot of brave clients we’ve worked with to be able to buy some of the ideas we’ve brought them.

So, that’s essential. But it’s also imperative for the agency to understand the company. And I talked about the translation part before. So, if we’re going to propose something that’s going to have an impact on technical infrastructure or a sponsorship deal; understanding that, and knowing who that other person on the other end is, helps the client sell that concept in.

And we’ve gotten much better at that at R/GA, a better understanding through just our growth. Through media, through our technology platform, and just through understanding organizations better. Because we didn’t start as an agency, so we didn’t have classic client service people.

I began as a developer, as I told you, technologist, and ended up doing many different roles. So, you have to learn that muscle, whereas some other traditional advertising agencies have that just embedded in.


And look, that was something that was very clear the first time I came into R/GA, is I think Bob actually explained how it really was a production company for the film and entertainment industry, and how very early on, they embraced technology, as a way of creating film, opening sequences and trailers and all sorts of things using technology.

That was innovative for the entertainment industry. And I love the fact — in fact, I read somewhere that they had a policy of every nine years reinventing the company or reviewing the company. Is that something that still continues today?


It’s still a driving spirit. And actually, what’s interesting about that is that nine-year cycle; it really follows the path of technological disruption. Technological disruption often happens in 9 to 10-year cycles. It’s not perfectly scientific, but you can start to see that from our business alone.

Starting in the film business in the mid-70s film, physical film, Bob and his brother invented optical printers to print the Superman title sequence on that. That quickly gave way to the digital studio and then the desktop studio, then the web came up, and those were happening within roughly within nine year increments.

We’re 45-years-old this year. It’s time for the next one. So, we’re preparing and working on looking at that next iteration of R/GA.

And a lot of it will have to do with what we were talking about earlier a little bit, is just the amount, the distributed creativity we have with the company. We have a truly global agency company that we built ourselves.

It’s been a tremendous advantage during the past few years, and I think that could be accelerated even further. Some of our biggest and best and longest-standing relationships are across 9 to 10 different locations in the company. So, that’s going to be a significant driver of that.

One thing I wanted to bring up that reminded me of this, because in our new office, which you’ll have to visit. When you see it, it’s a wonderful open floor plan. It’s the opposite of the old office in terms of the nooks and crannies that we had, but it’s a great space for collaboration and for presentations and client meetings, and just really wonderful. I was there four days this week.

We have an edit room, and the edit room is the old Superman artwork that we did in that first film. But we were in the room, we were taking a client through a demo, and we were demoing DALL·E 2. I’m not sure if you’ve seen or heard about DALL·E 2. It’s the artificial intelligence platform where you can text prompt it, and it’ll create an image for you.

And it’s just incredible to think about the early innovations that were happening at R/GA at that time. And now, we’re using one of the most transformative technologies that’s going to come into this creative industry very, very quickly. And I think now this is not a commercial thing yet for us or for another agency, but it’s going to be incredibly powerful.

I think it’s going to be adapted to editing; it’s going be adapted to full on 3D environments you can create. And I think that’s another example of creative people needing to be curious and experimental with those platforms to learn them, because I think human ingenuity, I believe will win out and we’ll be able to create very new things with these platforms.

And that’s one of the newer technologies that we’re really pursuing and pushing and learning from right now.


Yeah. It makes me think of the whole idea of artificial intelligence, the people that say that they’re fearful of it because it will eventually take over everything. I think they forget or undervalue the human mind. And a truly curious mind can create things that a huge amount of computer power would be required.

I think often of artificial intelligence could be like the thousand monkeys on the typewriters. Hopefully, they’ll eventually get to Shakespeare, whereas human beings still make those random connections that lead to amazing things. And I think it’s a long way off.

Sean, look, this has been a really exciting conversation. I’m so excited to hear about R/GA, your leadership and the way that it’s evolved, and the direction it’s going, but we’ve unfortunately run out of time.

I hope, when I’m next in New York, I’ll definitely be knocking on your door, and seeing the new office, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been on an airplane, but thank you for your time today.


Oh, thank you, Darren. And you’re welcome to visit anytime when you’re in New York. I hope to see you soon in Australia as well. Thank you very much for the time today.


So, Sean, one last question before you go, and that is you’ve worked on a lot of really innovative and breakthrough projects.



Did he answer this question?


Yes he did – but it’s Darren’s practice to not publish the answer 🙂