“A world without advertising is a world with less choice and fewer colors”: Beyond the Brief with Joanna Young, Team One

To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)? The Drum is now interviewing 100 people at 4A’s member agencies — across all disciplines, levels, regions, and agency types — to get a glimpse into what drives them at work and what fuels them in life.

Joanna Young is the management director at Team One and has more than 15 years of experience in strategic planning, working with brands such as JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, The Ritz-Carlton, Charles Schwab and more. 

At Team One, Young leads the research initiative that the company calls the Global Affluent Tribe, which studies the attitudes, motivations and behaviors of the world’s affluent.

Before her work at Team One, Young worked at Havas for four years working on accounts such as Paypal, Liberty Mutual, NYSE and more. Her impressive history also includes time at agencies including DDB, Deutsch and FCB.

Young’s work at Team One and her leadership with the Global Affluent Tribe, as well as her passion for innovation, show that she is living beyond the brief.

What’s the biggest issue the industry faces? How would you solve it?

For far too long, we’ve given away leverage to clients who commoditize us as interchangeable vendors (of TV commercials, logos, banner ads, etc.) rather than value us as partners. We need to re-remember that we are in the business of ideas. We creatively solve problems, rather than simply peddle executions or the latest shiny tactic – VR for the sake of VR; digital analytics that don’t answer any questions a client actually cares about. And to do this, we need to know their business better than they do – ALL of us – creative, account, strategy, media, interns and CEOs alike.

Everyone “hates” advertising. What do you think the world would be without it?

A world without advertising is a world with less choice and fewer colors. People do not complain about something that inspires them, excites them or provides true utility. What they supposedly “hate” about advertising is to be bombarded with messages they don’t care about, at the time and place that they do not want it. Advertising should continue to intrigue and activate — but do so in ways that are useful and delightful to the unique individual, and keep helping to define the spectrum of choice.

What do you believe your legacy in advertising is/will be? Why is that?

Providing a fresh perspective on the aspirations of the world, through my work leading the Global Affluent Tribe™ Study at Team One. We investigate the evolving motivations and values of the world’s wealthy, to truly understand what they want and why (rather than simply trend spotting on what’s “in” right now). A fundamental truth uncovered is that affluents today are not like those of the past: they are more progressive, inclusive and entrepreneurial. And these characteristics trickle down to the rest of the world, leading to a profound shift in what all people want and admire.

Where was the last place you traveled to? What did you learn from that trip?

Earlier this year, I was in Lyon with my husband and 2-year-old girl. With zero time to prepare, we did the opposite of every other trip we’ve ever taken. No methodical Googling for offbeat-but-delightful recommendations. Zero reservations made. And not a single picture posted to Instagram. Instead, we went grocery shopping and ate a lot of strawberries. At the Musee des Beaux Arts, we spent more time sitting in the garden than looking at art. We ate bad Chinese (with fantastic French wine)… and I learned to be present and still, rather than frantically straddling the past and future.

How would you define “a life well-lived”?

Ultimately, I think it’s having the freedom to focus on the pursuits that one feels are most important to them. According to the 4700+ affluents we surveyed in the Global Affluent Tribe™ Study that I oversee, a “life well lived” is one of warmth and opportunity: their absolute highest priorities is to spend time with loved ones and pursue avenues of personal growth. And I completely agree. What a true luxury it can be to be able to focus on family and pursue personal development rather than waste time worrying about bills or obligations!

To pitch someone from a 4A’s member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.

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