Ask Better Questions. Get Better Results.

Adweek reports that John Livengood has been promoted to executive creative director at DDB Seattle. No doubt for lucid thinking like this:

“My whole perspective is, creatives need to change the questions we ask,” he said. Instead of asking clients what they want in terms of campaign components, Livengood suggested, “ask them what they want people to do. Not, ‘Do you want a print campaign?’ But ‘What’s the business problem here? What’s the challenge?’ ”
Livengood said he has found this “problem-solving first, tactics second” method to be a productive and “fundamentally different way to drive [consumer] behavior.” Getting messages noticed and acted upon relies on a strong combination of creative, account planning, strategic and production efforts, he said, and it’s harder than ever to achieve.

While I agree with each and every syllable uttered by the good Mr. Livengood, he assumes a solid agency-client partnership, when few such relationships exist today. Agencies, even the best of them, are vendors, not partners.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. The Late David Ogilvy says:

    All hail John Livengood: Master of the Obvious.
    I mean, he’s absolutely right, of course. But aren’t those kind of questions most of us already ask?
    It always amazes me how many perfectly obvious observations are treated as blindingly brilliant insights when uttered by a creative with a couple of awards under his belt.
    Or am I just being cynical?

  2. Given that you’ve been asking poignant questions of clients since the middle of the last century, I’d say no, it’s not cynical.