'Big Data' Needs Intuition, Says Goodby ECD Christian Haas

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haasThis week, San Francisco-based Goodby Silverstein & Partners announced that it has decided to take the New York plunge and open its creative agency offices in downtown NYC. Read the release. AdExchanger spoke to ECD Christian Haas about the new base as well as technology and creative.

AdExchanger: New York is often viewed as the capital of advertising, but it feels like Goodby, based in San Francisco, hasn’t thought that way in its history.  Why the change?

CHRISTIAN HAAS: It's actually very simple.  It's because of talent.

Like you said, we've been a San Francisco agency for pretty much 30 years and apart from the Detroit office that we opened a couple of years ago to serve Chevy, we've always been in San Francisco and we kind of always wanted it to be that way.  We wanted to be a network of one, and serve everyone.

The reason we decided to open New York was because honestly Nancy Reyes and myself wanted to go to New York. We saw an opportunity to take this brand, this agency to the East Coast. And, the other part of it is we lost a lot of people to New York.  This gives us an opportunity to call these people back and hire those that we would love to have working with us, but are not ready to make the move to the West Coast.

Has Goodby’s proximity to Silicon Valley given it an edge when it comes to how technology plays out creatively in marketer strategies?

Yes, I think so. One thing I will admit is that I've always been a geek. I've always been interested in what technology can do beyond technology’s sake. What it can do for advertising. What it can do for living and so forth. I've been in San Francisco for 11 years now and I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with a bunch of different tech companies, big and small, from Hewlett Packard to tiny little shops and we learned a lot from it. It’s not just about the technology of tech, but the cultural side of how technology is made, the culture of “beta” and putting a product out and learning from how consumers interact with it - and then quickly learning, and changing it and improving it.

We've done a lot of work for tech companies, in particular, and we hope to take the learning that we had in the last several years and bring it to New York. The other thing is interpersonally – we are now able to do things in many more interesting ways and so much faster than we could. We’re also able to target more accurately - it's just more fun. The kind of work we can do today with technology is just a lot more interesting than before because you're not locked to a few media outlets or formats. The most exciting part is not what has changed in the last ten years, for example, but what will change from now on.

Moving on to the idea of data and “big data,” in particular. Has the “big data” problem come to the creative agency?  How is it manifesting itself, if so?

It’s inevitable, but the truth is data is one of the most valuable assets in communication these days. It doesn’t hurt as long as there is a balance with intuition because the truth is - if all you do is repeat what you know works, there is absolutely no space for innovation. Innovation is by definition the antithesis of best practices. Innovation is taking risks.  I have nothing against data, “big data,” “small data,” etc. as long as there is a balance with intuition.

Follow Goodby Silverstein (@GSP) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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One Response to “'Big Data' Needs Intuition, Says Goodby ECD Christian Haas”


  1. Welcome to NYC Christian and GSP! Everyone at Essence looks forward to welcoming you and working together face to face at last.

    Sadly I am getting on a plane and moving to SF just as you arrive - timing sucks!

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