He speaks several languages, is great at sports, and had a successful career in media sales.
But like many a curmudgeonly older Jewish gentleman, he is rather obsessed with the topic of how to save money. I like to tell him that if he put half as much thought into how to make money as he does into how to save it, he'd net-net be much better off.
But I now realise I've fallen into exactly the same trap myself.
In previous posts about how our industry can survive in the face of intense competition and margin pressures, I've suggested losing Creative Directors, or fusing Art Directors & Copywriters, or Suits & Planners. Basically, all ways to save money.
I've failed to consider how we might instead make more money.
This article, called 'The Demise And Rise Of Our Industry', does just that.
It's written by a guy called John Zeigler, who is the CEO of DDB Asia Pac. Yes, I know he's my boss's boss's boss so you might think I'm sucking up. Well, I can't control what you think. Just read the article. It's excellent.
But if you haven't got time to read it, the essence is this:
Clients are asking us to cut our fees by about 10% a year. We consider ourselves lucky if we settle at -8%. To stay profitable, we have to keep cutting staff. If the same trend carries on, we'll be dead within about five years.
The role of marketing has been degraded. Where once Marketers controlled the four P's, they now control only one P - Promotion. (One of the P's is Product. In a marketing-led company, the Marketers tell the company what products to make. In not many companies do Marketers have that power, nowadays).
Therefore the position of Marketers has been degraded. A study by Adobe, for example, found that 80% of CEOs do not trust marketers, 70% of CEOs believe marketers are disconnected from business results, and 69% of CEOs believe marketers like to stay too much in ‘their creative and social-media bubbles’.
John's conclusion? We need to change our role, dramatically. We need to go much further upstream, and help our clients develop new products and services, and influence how they engage with their staff, and how they take their products to market.
In short, we need to help Marketers show CEO's that we can use our creativity to solve their business problems - not just to create ads.
If we can do that, we'll be adding extra services - useful services that we can charge more money for - and we just might survive.
Good stuff from Mr Z.
Dad - take note.