Doers Makers Innovators: A new speaker series

Gareth sporting Terrier red.

One of the cool things about academia — believe me there is no shortage of frustrations, too — is the amazing amount of freedom you have. Not only in the classroom but also in programs you want to initiate. So I’m pretty excited that in my first full semester at BU’s College of Communication, I’ve been able to launch new speaker series called Doers Makers Innovators.

Last Friday, Gareth Kay, Goodby Silverstein and Partners’ chief strategy officer, kicked off the series with a brilliant talk on how the advertising industry needs to get radical. He probably induced a little bit of panic during the first part of his talk by declaring one out of four clients don’t think their agencies contribute to profitability; three out of five clients don’t think they get good value from their agency; and only one in 10 have any confidence that their agency is evolving to stay relevant in the digital age. Yikes.

Nevertheless, as you’d expect from Gareth, he offered genuine advice on what to do about it. (Note this is an older deck, but includes content similar to Gareth’s BU talk.) Nearly 100 students and faculty attended a session that took place mid-day on the Friday before Thanksgiving. If you’ve been on a campus in recent years, you know that most students manage to avoid classes, never mind extra curricular sessions, on Fridays. So clearly there’s an interest in the topic.

The modest plan for Doers Makers Innovators calls for inviting four to six creative change agents to the college each year. They’ll speak, but ideally challenge, provoke and inspire students to think about their role in the industry’s continued transformation in light of all things digital. However, on a more ambitious scale, I’m joined by my faculty colleagues and some ex-BDW speakers in hoping the series will eventually evolve into a new annual workshop, open not only to students but people outside the BU community as well. In fact we had a fair number of folks from local agencies show up for this talk just from the word-of-mouth buzz it generated.

I’ll share any news should the workshop concept develop, but in the meantime know that your enthusiasm and support would help it along.

I have a wish list that includes people from Red Bull, Deep Local, and the New York and Boston startup communities, but nothing confirmed quite yet. Should things go according to plan, we might convince Google Creative Lab’s Ben Malbon to make an appearance in early 2013 and bring his bag of brilliance that represents the Lab’s output.  But if you have other ideas and or influence please share.

Lastly, a huge thanks to Mullen for helping to underwrite the series. Love the fact that the agency is open minded enough to support a program that takes a long-term view by investing in the next generation. Also a shoutout to my new colleagues at COM, Professors Tom Fauls, Tobe Berkovitz and Carolyn Clark who helped make this happen.


trip protection
trip protection

I tried my best. I really did. I bought newspapers every week, sometimes even if it meant a trip to the store on a day we didn’t need groceries. I poured over them, desperately trying to find coupons for items we use.


Wow! That slide deck was amazing, we need this speaker series in Canada please. The curriculum's at school in Saskatchewan (where I work and am teaching in the new year) are ancient. Still based on outdated text books.  Bring on the free radicals, they can't come fast enough.



Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

This is incredible. You are an outsized asset to the Advertising Industry. You don't get paid enough no matter how much you get paid. I guess my biggest thought on Gareth's opening remarks you quoted is why isn't there a lot more agency turn over for clients than there is with those stats. And is the reason the Ad Industry is so reluctant to change/evolve is because the clients aren't forcing them to? There are industry examples of massive disruption because of feet dragging like the Music Industry and Video Industry.


This was a great presentation. What a splendid opportunity for our COM advertising students (and faculty) to hear from one of the smartest and nicest guys in the business. Carry on.

edwardboches moderator

 @HowieG You are too kind. But, true, I don't get paid enough.  At least not at BU. However, I do this because it gives me great pleasure. And I like hacking the system, any system, from the edges, to inspire change, provoke the status quo and see where it all leads.  As always, thanks for your comments.