Given that agency trading desks themselves are a relatively new phenomenon, the move from trading desk to creative agency isn’t a path well-trodden.
Almost two months on and Schlickum is starting to find his feet in his new home of Singapore and while its early days in the role, The Drum spoke to Schlickum about the motives behind the move.
For anyone that has traversed the conference center halls or decks of the yachts at Cannes over the past five years, Schlickum’s motives may sound familiar. The tension between creative and data and technology is an opportunity not yet realized.
“The more I speak to clients I think there's this really interesting opportunity around data and technology integration with creativity,” says Schlickum.
“So many brands are starting to ask questions. We are at the stage in using technology where it should be making you better marketer, not just a more effective advertiser or a slightly more efficient advertiser. How does it actually make brands money? How does it help me engage with my customer base more efficiently, more effectively and in a more engaged way that creates long term value?”
Cannes as a festival of creativity is increasingly focused on technology, and specifically ad tech, and yet many will argue that the conversation about tech and creativity rarely moves forward. The issue is primarily around silos. Ad tech talks to ad tech and creatives talk to creatives, with a handful of exceptions. In such a young part of the ad industry there hasn’t been a great deal of crosspollination, particularly for someone so high profile (Schlickum took home the DTAs Digital Trading Leader of the Year award in May) and it’s why his move is so interesting for the industry to watch.
“The tech sector has done a pretty good job of educating creative people about what's potentially possible with the application of data and technology to the creative process. But they've done a pretty lousy job of inspiring them and I think creativity requires inspiration
"If you look at the way the creative process is normally structured, there's a limited role for some of this data and technology in that creative process. I think we have world class creative that understands how tech contributes to consumer insight and developing a big idea but there’s no question that we're talking about a very different kind of data and technology opportunity and Wunderman has that at its core,” he explains.
Wunderman’s history in direct and data-led marketing is a logical move but Schlickum also says part of the decision was down to Wunderman chief executive Mark Read’s vision for the business, which he’s bought into.
It’s not just new part of the industry Schlickum has to get used to but a new part of the world and one which is more fragmented and culturally diverse than any other.
“I'm under no illusions about how diverse this region is in the use and application of data and technology,” he says, adding that cultural, commercial and regulatory conditions vary greatly not just across the region but to what is happening in Europe.
“I'm now looking forward to two or three months of really listening to people. My priority is to talk to people in the markets here to understand their businesses properly, to talk to the people who run our teams and understand what our opportunities are,” says Schlickum.