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‘I don’t see it being practiced very skillfully’: FCB’s Susan Credle on how true collaboration wins business

Last week, Clorox announced the selection of FCB and McGarryBowen as the lead agencies for the Oakland, California-based brand. According to the company, the selections were due to both agencies demonstrating “strong creative talent, digital marketing prowess, multi-discipline integration communications planning, and seamless access to outstanding capabilities across their networks.”

“This is a time of tremendous change and enormous digital opportunity,” said Eric Reynolds, chief marketing officer, The Clorox Company. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with FCB and mcgarrybowen/Dentsu Aegis Network as our two agencies of record. Both agencies have a rich history of building brands that consumers love, developing big ideas and campaigns with coherence across today’s complex communications channels.”

The brand portfolio is wide and will be spilt among the two. FCB’s San Francisco and Chicago offices will work on the global marketing campaigns of Clorox-branded cleaning, laundry and home products such as Pine-Sol, Liquid Plumr and Glad while McGarryBowen will tackle the consumer packaged goods and food space, working with brands like Hidden Valley, Brita and Burt’s Bees.

Susan Credle, who joined FCB earlier this year as global chief creative officer, said that genuine collaboration within the agency played a key role when it came to winning the Clorox business.

“One of the things that I've consistently heard the last four months from people new to FCB and people that have been in other companies is that there is this incredibly generous spirit to each other,” said Credle. “Globally, even in this Clorox pitch, we reached out to our Dubai office and Latin America for some help and insight, and they created some incredible work for us to take into the meeting. It was not sort of like, ‘we'll try’. They were as passionate about it as the boots on the ground.”

Generosity and togetherness seems to be a recurring theme with Credle when discussing the Clorox pitch — and the state of the industry in general. Gone are the days of short-term thinking and short-term gain. For the industry to thrive and the work to matter, collaboration, true collaboration, according to Credle, armed with 30+ years of industry wisdom, is critical.

“Collaboration is a word we hear a lot but I don’t see it being practiced very skillfully,” said Credle. “What I was amazed at during this pitch was truly watching a team play together across geography. There were times when San Francisco needed more help from Chicago, there were times when Chicago needed help from San Francisco. When somebody was falling behind, whether it was strategy or making stuff or whatever, the other office stepped in and helped. I have this saying that if one of us does something brilliant in the network, the value of every one of our business cards goes up. I think when you start thinking that, that you're playing a team where you want your colleagues to succeed, it changes the way you behave. My feeling is that if you're just trying to beat someone within your company, that's really the wrong game.”

Additionally, venom that results from using the word “advertising” in a disparaging manner could also prove troublesome — and limiting when, according to Credle it “only means a few things like a piece of film we call TV advertising or commercials.”

“When you think about it, the business of advertising is really being in the business of solving problems through creativity for our clients,” said Credle. “It's also the blend of art and commerce. The reason I didn't go into the content business, like making films, writing books or being a journalist, is I really loved the business side of creativity. Could creative actually drive the economy? Could it do things for business'? By the way, could it also do some things that are interesting in the world? I think we have to have a broader definition of what advertising is, and stop trying to say that we do things like branding content, advertorials or native whatever. Anything that serves the brand or the business artfully is advertising.”

The Clorox work for both FCB and McGarryBowen, according to the company, begins in until July — but Credle is already laying the groundwork for a long-term relationship that goes beyond just the main scope, leveraging the best that the agency has to offer.

“Five years down the road, I would hope The Clorox Company truly feels like we are a partner with them,” said Credle. “I’ve never seen great work that builds brands and builds business' over time work without an honest, authentic partnership. It's incredibly important to realize that creativity should be there in the day-to-day business as well. I think sometimes we do the glamorous things really well in this industry, but the nuts and bolts we don't give as much attention to. I would really like to see the harder day-to-day work, that really is moving the business, continue to get the creative attention of our best people.”

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