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The four categories of brand innovation according to chairman of TBWA Worldwide


The four categories of brand innovation according to chairman of TBWA Worldwide


Creative agencies must help clients innovate in the way they innovate, chairman of TBWA Worldwide Jean-Marie Dru told delegates at the AANA’s RESET conference in Sydney.


Speaking to a crowd of senior marketers, Jean-Marie Dru, the disruption evangelist and author of five books on the topic, laid out a framework for agency-led innovation, urging brands to let go of conservatism.

“The level of innovation is not high enough in most companies – the result is growth is not high enough,” he said.

“In the last three or four years it has become our duty to help companies with innovation. It is now the job of agencies to help clients innovate in the way they innovate.”

Dru referenced several examples of disruptive brand campaigns, from Apple to Gatorade. He urged marketers to adopt a Steve Jobs mentality, similar to the basis of the company’s 1997 ‘Think Different’ brand campaign.

Dru shared four categories TBWA take clients through to instil innovation thinking in organisations.

1. Innovation against

The first, ‘innovation against’ is convention led and involves looking at multiple conventions, finding ways to supersede them in order to come up with an idea.

2. Innovation for

Its flipside, ‘innovation for’ is vision led, involving analysis of trends to uncover inspiration for new ideas.

3. Innovate with

The third, ‘innovate with’ looks at finding potential patterns, often brands that are so far away from the company’s core business the partnership would be kind of strange, to create tension that might surface new ideas.

4. Innovation by, with, from

And the fourth, ‘innovation by, with or from’ describes a multi-moded approach incorporating any or all of the previous three styles.


Marketing can and must be at the core of innovation, Dru argued. “Don’t be shy,” he said. “The level of innovation is getting higher and higher… don’t underestimate what you can do when it comes to innovation.”

“There are so many ways to get to innovation and you should be inspired by what other people do. We’ve classified billions of ways on innovation,” he said highlighting usage occasion, crowdsourcing, asset-led, CSR-led, data-led, business model, price-led, partnership, brand-led and added service innovation as areas to look toward.

Dru is also of the opinion that agencies should work with clients’ R&D teams. “R&D people and agencies should meet more often. Let the agency get into the heart of R&D – we have imagination, they have innovation, when they mix it is great.”

Fear and silos within businesses are the two hardest barriers to overcome on the innovation journey, according to Dru: marketing is in charge of the growth of a company, it needs to break down the walls that exist around departments to innovate.



Chris Byrne

Chris Byrne used to be research editor of this publication, but now contributes from various locations. He also contributes to The Fetch and has been published in The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Tweet him @penseive

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