Facebook has no ambitions to buy an ad agency: Fergus O’Hare
The good news is Fergus O’Hare, Facebook Creative Shop’s director for the APAC region, is clear that he doesn’t want to take away jobs of creative agencies and would rather align or work with them. The bad news is very few of them are buying that line. Excerpts from an interview shortly after his presentation at the advertising festival Goafest.
Are people in the ad business scared of Facebook?
Clients are not scared at all. They absolutely love us. They know they should be, and need to be on Facebook. That’s where consumers are. Agencies are slightly frightened of us. They don’t know what our intentions are. They think we are here to take their jobs. Or are trying to become an agency.
But aren’t you taking away jobs from the people who make microsites for instance?
Not exactly. They will adapt to make a microsite on (Facebook’s recently launched ad platform) Canvas. I have been in advertising 17 years: I did TV and print then banners and then more digital stuff. I adapted and changed. The skills I learned, I have been applying to different platforms. The guys who were doing the microsites would not have a job anyway because no one is going to them anyway. We will help them adapt to Canvas.
Do you see yourself growing beyond the 140 people global team you have at present by maybe acquiring an agency?
We have no ambitions to acquire an agency. We have aligned ourselves with agencies like BBH in Singapore. We are doing lots of training, we are working on projects. We are a very tight ship. The problem with big agencies is that they are like Titanic which hits the iceberg before it can turn. For the last 12 months I was handling the entire Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Israel on my own. I did that by aligning with the big agencies.
How important is it to be an active member of a platform like Facebook to be able to create on it?
It’s always good to see what people are doing on it. I used Facebook before I joined. But when they offered me a job, I said ‘I did not know how to advertise on Facebook. They said ‘Fine, we are looking for people who can tell stories. We can teach you how to do Facebook, but we cannot teach how to do big ideas.’
It’s important to know what is going on. I think it’s just the fear. And a lot of creatives still think television is better because their ads looks bigger. But phones is personalised and considering how close people hold them, the ad is proportionally bigger than on TV. Some people fear change, some embrace it. Most people in advertising like change. We are just there to tell them that the skills you have can be used on Facebook.