Fredrik Carlström is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Creative Director of Great Works America, a full-service digital marketing and communications agency that represents a diverse range of clients including Absolut Spirits Company, H&M and Nokia. In his dual roles, Carlström, a veteran marketing executive and acclaimed film producer, utilizes his deep and broad experience in both marketing and entertainment to spearhead Great Works America"s mission to create innovative and cutting-edge campaigns that engage consumers and encourage them to interact with leading brands.
Carlström joined Great Works America in February 2007 when the company opened in New York and signed an exclusive partnership with Carlström"s Third Factory, a film production company — the first deal of its kind between an advertising agency and a film production company. This partnership marked the transformation of Great Works America into a marketing agency that bridges the worlds of advertising, art, media and entertainment.
Question: How are the Internet and technology changing advertising?
Fredrik Carlstrom: Well, I think it changes it in the way that I said a little bit earlier, with the old model being the “hit” model, where you had to have a hit. You had to have a big TV series, you had to have a big publication, you have to sell lots and lots and lots of copies, so that you can make it back from advertising. So I think the buzzword is the disintermediation, i.e. the disappearance of middle hands, where I don’t necessarily have to go through all these sort of mediaries, and I can go straight to the writer’s blog, and I can do straight to the source. And they wouldn’t come and advertise unless you had millions of clicks every day. And they’d be worried about putting that guy on because he’s a Christia-- you know, he’s this, or that guy is gay, and that doesn’t work with our brand, or whatever. And here you can do this, and you don’t need to kind of achieve the same amount of clicks in this kind of-- so I think technology has done that. We’ve gone from, you know, I think we’ve gone from the day of sort of mass communication, where it’s one box that’s the mass, and you kind of buy an ad on one of the networks, and you reach almost everybody, to lots of little boxes. And you guys will-- or we in our campaigns will reach people who’re interested in advertising, or technology, or you know, you said there was a string physicist here earlier. Most people don’t know what that is. But there are people who do, and they live all over the world, all over America, and they can go on your site and listen to what this guy has to say. And so you can be, as a brand, you have very little excuses not to be honest, to be-- edgy, I suppose is a used-up word-- but you can talk to your group in a much more direct way. You don’t have to be everything for everyone.
Question: How important is transparency today?
Fredrik Carlstrom: Acquiring a new client, or a new customer is very expensive. And I think we all feel this. You know, you call your-- you talk to your friend, and you’re pissed off about your cell phone company, or whatever, and they say, “Well, I have this,” and you say, “Well, I had that before, and I swear...,” it’s kind of like people just move around. And it’s kind of-- you’re just a little bit stuck. So-- but I think people need-- I think companies need to start being integrated. And what I mean by that is consumers don’t care. You know, you sit in meetings and you go, “Well, we’re making an ad for you guys to do X, but when I call your customer service, they’re rude, incompetent idiots. And so you might want to change that before we start advertising people to call this number.” And then the guy says, “Well, I’m in marketing. You know, the customer service people, they’re a different department.” And you go, “Well, as a consumer, I don’t give a crap how you guys are organized. It’s, you’re one company.” And marketing, product design, customer service, PR, it’s all the same. And I think that companies need to start thinking like that. They need to start, you know, I wonder how many CEOs of companies actually call their own companies with a problem. I mean, if you’re the head of almost any big company, and you have to deal with your own company, you’d shoot yourself.
Recorded on: 6/12/08