In a recent interview with Media Village, Blue 449 USA President, Keith Mackay discussed what it means to be an ‘open source’ agency and how this has impacted employees and clients alike.
Blue 449 USA’s Keith Mackay on the Future of Open Source
Mention open source to someone and the first thought that blossoms in that someone’s mind is Linux and other computer software formats available the last few decades — formats that operate anywhere, under any situation and under no restraints or limitations. Over the last year Publicis Media unit Blue 449, with eBay among its clients, has fashioned a work environment modeled after open source. In this exclusive interview, Blue 449 USA President Keith Mackay explains how this model impacts his organization and sizes up the likelihood that it could become prevalent throughout the advertising industry.
Simon Applebaum: Keith, how did your organization adopt an open source environment?
Keith Mackay: Open source was really birthed out of the need to combine two different agency cultures; Blue 449 and Optimedia. In order for us to be a modern, agile agency, we had to look at build and buy as a possibility, but [we] also had to look at the notion of partnering. As an agency, [we had to be] comfortable introducing additional partners into the challenges that we’re trying to solve for clients.
The second area was collaboration, [which] has always been a heartbeat of our agency. It’s been something that has been key and critical to our culture and something that I’ve tried to nurture in a leadership position.
I also noticed something else. As technology allowed us to be more productive, to respond quickly to client needs, I noticed that more and more often we were solving problems not just in silos created by agencies, but in silos created by technology. I was growing more and more frustrated. I’d get back from a meeting and see 13 e-mails going back and forth. We really hated a lot of that, and we started to create what we call “hacking” as a new addition to our culture. If you’ve got a challenge or if you’re stuck on something or you’ve got a hypothesis, pull people together.
That’s created a significant amount of efficiencies in how we work, but it’s also really empowered and inspired the junior and mid-level staff to get more involved in the bigger strategic conversations. It allows us to be more nimble.