Episode 97: Clark Kokich, Razorfish on Social Influence Marketing and the 2009 Digital Outlook
Clark Kokich shares his insights on what's happening with digital marketing for 2009 and he should know. Razorfish is the 2nd largest global agency (AdAge) with net billings over $400 million, 20 offices in 8 countries and a blue chip client list.
Find out about the shifting digital media spend, what areas are growing, where the economy his hit the industry hardest. Verticals and portals are down, search is up, networks are flat, ad exchanges are becoming more popular but where does social fit in?
Find out how Clark views the changes of running a successful agency now versus his time as EVP & GM of WPP's Cole & Weber in the late 80's. Clark shares the evolution of capabilities, proccess and culture in the agency world. He believes we have moved from being "communicators" "saying things" to being adept at "building experiences."
How has that changed the culture of his agency and what is he doing to help his organization flourish and grow? (that's what he wants to be remembered for)
Get bead on how digital agencies and traditional agencies will manage the opportunity of long-tail Internet television. Hear Clark's perspective on Social Object Theory. Learn about some of their recent campaigns for Levi's Project Runway and Docker's Shakable iPhone application.
Then find out what Clark is playing on his Fender Stratocaster and why Italian Wine gives him strength and inspiration.
Suz and Clark wrap up the show on a hopeful note, discussing Jeffry Sach's book, The End of Poverty and his blueprint for worldwide economic success - which he believes is possible in our lifetime.
An uplifting show with sage advice from one of the great leaders in our industry.
Female Moderator #1: This program is brought to you by Personalifemedia.com.
Susan Bratton: Welcome to Dishy Mix. I’m your host Susan Bratton and on today’s show we’re going to get to meet Clark Kokich. Clark is the Global President and CEO of Razorfish. You probably have heard about Razorfish. It’s one of the leading digital agencies in the world and on today’s show we’re going to talk to Clark about the outlook, the digital outlook for 2009, building experiences, a little bit about long-tail Internet television, social influence marketing and some real time media experiences. We have a lot to cover so let’s get Clark on the show. Welcome Clark.
Clark Kokich: Good morning Susan. How are you?
Susan Bratton: I’m fabulous and we have so much to get done. Are you ready?
Clark Kokich: I am ready.
Susan Bratton: Alright, here’s the first thing that I want to know. So you are kind of famous know for saying that agencies used to excel at saying things, being communicators, but now you must be adept at building experiences.
Clark Kokich: I’m famous for that?
Susan Bratton: I’ve read that. I’ve seen that quoted a number of times and I think that’s really, really true. Can you give me a couple of examples of where you see that change most pronounced.
Clark Kokich: Right. So there’s nothing I would rather not do than make the claim that advertising is dead or that saying things well is a discipline that we can ignore. Advertising is going to continue to be important. Talking to consumers in the voice that you control is going to be a big part of marketing for a long time. The point I was making in that article is I think while it’s important it’s not sufficient and that the combination of the technologies that we have available to us now combined with the expectations of consumers is going to create a situation for any company who just keeps pounding the message like a blunt instrument is going to be beaten by those companies who learn how to listen, engage and interact with their consumers across all these new platforms. And everybody knows that and everybody talks about it. You can’t go to a, so it’s not very revealing to say that, but the implications for whatever it really means for what clients do and what agencies do and how they think about the disciplines, the technologies, the skills, the culture, the way they approach things are really fundamental and I don’t think we’ve even begun to see the kind of change we’re going to really see over the next five or 10 years as a result of this.
Susan Bratton: When you were AVP in GM of WPP’s Cole & Weber Agency in Seattle, that was probably about what, over 20 years ago, right?
Clark Kokich: I guess. It was a long time ago.
Susan Bratton: Yes, it was over 20 years ago.
Clark Kokich: I wish you hadn’t said it with such a definitive tone (indecipherable).
Susan Bratton: You old, old man. What I want to know is think back to those Cole & Weber days and now think about how Razorfish is organized and compare the business structures and the scope of responsibilities then and now. How has it really fundamentally changed?
Clark Kokich: Well there are three changes - one, the capabilities, secondly the process and finally the culture. So the capabilities I think are pretty obvious. We did not have expertise in technology, analytics and user experience. By the eighties, clients have gotten so good at marketing that advertising agencies were really starting to focus mainly on producing advertising and really producing television commercials. And so the number of disciplines you need now versus then is basically doubled. The bigger changes are in the process. It used to be very linear. You could have a strategy person on one floor that would do a strategy. On another floor, somebody would do the creative execution. In another building, somebody could buy the media, plan and buy the media. That doesn’t work in the digital world. All those things have to be together. Everybody on the team, the media, the creative, the technology, the user experience people have to be together in a room working together to focus on the problem together. And that’s a completely different process and the best ideas and the real innovations can come from anywhere. Anybody in that room can have an idea on how to take a new application or a new technology and apply it in a new way to solve a consumer need. And the final thing is just the culture. I think agencies are built around a culture of being experts at advertising and being the pros who can come in with the great ideas and I think in this environment you need a culture more around curiosity and innocence and a recognition that we don’t know what all the answers are and to embrace innovation, to embrace mistakes, to give people up and down the organization the right to take risks, to fail, to learn from that failing. It really is a different kind of culture because we’re actually inventing this as we go along. I always used to think when I got to, I’m 57. When I got to be 57 I could sit in my office and young people would come and ask me things and I would have knowledge and I’d be able to tell them the answer. That is absolutely not the case. I don’t know anything.
Susan Bratton: Well that’s a perfect segue way.
Clark Kokich: And none of us know anything and that is a really key part of being effective in this world.
Susan Bratton: That’s a perfect segue way to another question that I wanted to ask you. You told me that you wanted to be remembered for building an organization where people can flourish and grow and that you pride yourself for not hiring outside the organization but for promoting from within. How do you train and prepare people who grow up in your organization for larger roles? What are some of the things you do culturally?
Clark Kokich: So I wouldn’t, we’re still a relatively young company and while we’ve gotten better at training and development, I wouldn’t say that that’s a high, one of our higher performing areas. The way we’ve done it is really trial by fire. We give people a lot of responsibility. I really believe in promoting people into jobs that they’ve never done but that they might be able to do because it just creates tremendous passion and excitement about the opportunity, and so you’ve got everybody in over their heads. Starting with me, nobody in this company is really technically qualified to do what they’re doing. They’ve all been pushed into roles and responsibilities that have caused them to grow and to stretch and to learn. And I think that’s the key and when we’ve brought people, we have brought a few people in from the outside and they’ve had a, most of them have had a really tough time because it’s hard to come into this world now and learn everything you need to know about digital because it’s not a handful of things. It’s such a broad spectrum now when you’ve got to sit in a meeting at, one meeting with a CTO talking about content management systems and the next day you’re talking to a bunch of people about social media and then moving into an analytics conversation. It’s just, there’s so much going on. But we’ve just had the best luck by promoting people into positions and supporting them and giving them the opportunity to fail and to succeed. And again that’s a cultural thing and I think we’re not the only ones that are doing that. If you want an expert in this world, where do you go? There are no experts.
Susan Bratton: Right. Everyone carves a niche.
Clark Kokich: You just need people who are curious and good problem solvers.
Susan Bratton: So just as a level set here when we’re talking about Razorfish, you had said everyone starting with you is in over their heads and that’s like that in every company, everywhere in the digital media space and certainly not Razorfish. But give us a sense of where you are in the line up of digital agencies as far as billings. What’s the order and what were your billings for in 2008?
Clark Kokich: I think in the last Ad Age report we were number two.
Susan Bratton: After?
Clark Kokich: (Indecipherable). And we grew last year 11%. Our total global billings were $408 million. That’s net revenue. We have just over 2,000 people in 20 offices in eight countries and 11% growth was based on historical norms, a huge disappointment but given the fact that we had a big chunk of business in media, auto and financial services, I guess we should be happy with that.
Susan Bratton: Right, only growing 11% is --
Clark Kokich: We had some very bad occurrences with some of our clients. One of our biggest was Washington Mutual and just one day it wasn’t there anymore.
Susan Bratton: Well now you just produced a Digital Outlook 2009 report. Now listeners, you can get this at digitaloutlook.razorfish.com. You can download it as a PDF. I was lucky. David Deal (phonetic) sent me the big old copy, the printed copy which is fantastic, beautifully produced, nicer than most of the books that I read for this show. And I wanted to go over that media, the digital ad spend. With all the losses, this is really a forecast for 2009, not the things that we suffered in the last year but I would love you to talk about the shifting digital ad spend and what you’re seeing as far as the distribution of the media dollars you are spending.
Clark Kokich: Well we have two pieces of our business. One is online advertising and marketing and that’s actually continuing to grow into this year so that’s planning, buying media, creating advertising campaigns microsites, all the stuff that kind of fits in traditional marketing. And that appears that it’s going to be up a little bit this year so it still seems that clients are moving money to digital or at least they’re holding in digital even though they may be cutting elsewhere. In terms of web development, which is the other big part of our business, that has taken a, that’s the most challenging part right now because those are capital investments that are easy to delay so you’re seeing web development go down. You’re seeing, or flat to down, you’re seeing online advertising and marketing up, and then within online advertising and marketing you’re seeing really a shift to performance but a lot more focus on ROI. So it appears, it’s still too early to say, but it appears that clients’ willingness to bid ridiculous sums on search just to get volume is being tempered by their growing awareness that they have to be efficient with what they do. So we’re seeing a little bit of move to add exchanges, vertical publications away from, away from is a little strong to say, not as strong as a move to search as we’ve seen in the past.
Susan Bratton: Where does social fit into that line up? If you look at the media world in your Outlook report as verticals, portals, search and networks, is social media in there somewhere, a vertical or what is it?
Clark Kokich: Yes, social would be a vertical but we don’t, we do do advertising on Facebook and other social media sites. But the vast majority of our work is more what we call social influence marketing where we’re building a social component into everything we do. And that, so that may not be paid advertising or paid marketing on a, somebody else’s, a third party website but more a social component custom built as part of a program, either on a microsite or on a website or on a phone or some other application.
Susan Bratton: There were a couple of campaigns that caught my eye that I wanted to talk to you about. But I also wanted to just review the list of your largest global clients so that we could all be impressed and amazed. You’re currently working with Capital One, Dell, Microsoft, Ford, Visa, Best Buy, JC Penney, Nike, Levis, McDonalds, Disney, AT&T, Mercedes Benz and State Farm. That’s a hell of a line up Clark. One of the ones that I wanted you to tell me about was this Levis Project Runway program.
Clark Kokich: So Levis Project Runway, that’s an example of what I think we all need to be doing more of in this business. So often when we talk about social media or any of these new technologies, we get enamored of the technology but we’re completely bereft of an idea in the way we execute it. And so the client had a business challenge which was to re-position Levis with women in the fashion category which has been a challenge for them in recent years. So they had a sponsorship going with Project Runway on Bravo and so our recommendation was to create a tie in contest online where people would submit their own designs for Levis products using denim and then create a social environment where people could log on and vote and comment and discuss all those designs. They had thousands of submissions and actual designs and over the five week period, we were actually able to demonstrate that the average price of Levis sold on the website went from $46 to $68 which was a dramatic impact. And to me, that’s an example of building things instead of saying things. So in the past, you would have said, “Okay, we need to tell women that Levis is a fashion product.” That’s very hard to do. That’s a tough assignment. It’s like saying, “Let’s tell people we’re cool.” Just by the fact of saying it you’re not cool. But to create an environment where people can go online, have fun, see people with a high fashion sense getting involved and contributing and Levis providing a platform for that involvement had exactly the desired effect. It allowed people on their own to say, “Boy Levis are cool.” And that’s really the perfect example of what I was talking about in that article that yes, saying things is important. Yes, advertising is important. But building experiences that engage people that use the power of social interaction and the power of this technology in new ways, that’s really the key to marketing in the future and those companies that get good at it will have a competitive advantage and those companies that don’t will not.
Susan Bratton: Well I think that’s a fantastic story and there’s a fun little quick one, just we’ve got to go to a break but tell me in three sentences about this fun little app, this iPhone app that you did for Dockers.
Clark Kokich: So for Dockers, that was just a fun application where we used the motion sensing capability of the phone where you can shake the phone and cause the guy to dance. It got a lot of downloads, got a lot of activity and a lot of fun. But it’s not a campaign.
Susan Bratton: Sure, just a little app.
Clark Kokich: And so there are scores of those little things all the time.
Susan Bratton: Yes, I can imagine. That’s fun. Well we’re going to go to a break. I did want to let everyone know that I am just launching a new ebook before we head off to that break. I have an ebook called “34 Secret Master Talk Show Host Techniques.” It’s at talkshowtips.com and if you’d like to know all of the things that I do to prepare for these interviews to bring the best out of people like Clark Kokich, which isn’t very hard I know, you might want to check it out. It’s at talkshowtips.com. We’re going to go now and thank the sponsors of Dishy Mix and we’ll be right back. Stay tuned.
[COMMERCIAL BREAK 17:49 TO 19:30]
Susan Bratton: We’re back with Clark Kokich, the Global President and CEO of Razorfish, one of the largest digital media agencies in the world. I guess it’s really more like a digital agency. Media is only a part of what you do. And one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about Clark was this idea of long-tail Internet television. You have a really nice article in the “Digital Outlook 2009” book about it, and what I’m interested in knowing is is there an opportunity in your media group for buying interactive broadcast spots in this long-tail Internet television world? Is that a juicy new area for you or where does that stand in your business as an opportunity for your business and your clients?
Clark Kokich: I do think it’s an opportunity. Also there’s a lot of confusion I think in the marketplace just because it’s video or television. There’s a battle brewing between digital agencies who believe that’s in their territory and traditional media buying companies who believe it would fall within theirs. And the reality is when you’re buying this long-tail online video, the dynamics look much more like the Internet. You’re basically talking about microaudiences, a dynamically delivered image. It’s a file delivered to a device. It’s not a mass audience delivered through a television screen. So the analytics, the discipline, the thought processes that go into doing a strong online advertising campaign media buy are exactly the same. So the answer is yes, we think there’s a tremendous opportunity there. Yes, we’re investing in it. But I think it will be a hard fought, competitive arena within the industry because it’s hard to imagine that 10 years from now, people are going to be sitting in a living room watching programs when someone else said they were supposed to watch them. Many of us don’t right now. Between all the, with all the technologies that are out there, I just don’t think that’s going to be a reality 10, 15 years from now. So we’re going to go through a transition of media and it’s going to look a lot more like the Internet. So the traditional buyers and planners and those companies that do that are going to be fighting like crazy to keep that business and we’re going to be fighting to be a part of it.
Susan Bratton: Do you think that you have a competitive advantage against the traditional agencies because of the level of technological innovation your team is comfortable with and your focus on a level of metrics that doesn’t currently exist in television? And yes, am I leading the witness? Yes.
Clark Kokich: Yes, but I do, well obviously I think we have a competitive advantage. You’ve got to be an optimist in this business or you’ll never make it. I think the real advantage is that we have media and creative integrated in one place.
Susan Bratton: Oh, that’s, of course, right.
Clark Kokich: So over the last two or three decades, traditional advertising has basically split media and creative apart. And it worked fine because it was really, you were buying a 30 second set piece of, basically a commodity and so buying efficiency, planning efficiency could reside in one company and creative could reside somewhere else. That does not work so well in this world and again as we said before this linear process, traditional linear process just doesn’t work and the only way to be effective is if you’re going to do video online, is to get the technology people, the creative people and the media people in the room together, talk about the communications problem, talk about the consumer and then talk about what kind of technologies and opportunities are available. And it has to be collaborative and iterative. It can’t be linear. So that I think is the bigger advantage that we have.
Susan Bratton: Makes sense. My bet is on your horse.
Clark Kokich: Mine too. But it’s not going to be easy.
Susan Bratton: Well let’s venture out into the theoretical for a moment, shall we?
Clark Kokich: Okay.
Susan Bratton: Social object theory. This was new to me and interesting but kind of common sense and I wonder if you can explain it and if you think it’s, has merit. Do you agree with it or where you stand?
Clark Kokich: Well it is one of those pointy head ideas that at first you tend to discard and say, “Oh well, that’s what the professors are talking about.” But it actually turns out that it’s a good way to get the conversation started when you’re trying to solve problems. The basic idea is that people’s social interaction revolves around objects. It could be a video, it could be a link, it could be an application, it could be anything that somebody creates or finds somewhere and puts into a social realm and then the social conversation revolves around that object. And so when you first read that, as you said you go, “Oh that’s kind of obvious. Duh.” And I don’t know how meaningful that is but when you’re sitting around trying to solve a problem and trying to figure out how are we going to get people engaged, that kernel of truth is really useful. And so it’s a great way to organize your thinking about how to generate ideas and we found it to be really useful.
Susan Bratton: So if all successful social media interactions center on an object, find an object.
Clark Kokich: Create an object. Find an object. Invite other people to create and submit objects --
Susan Bratton: that’s a good one.
Clark Kokich: -- which is the Levis 501 campaign. There’s a whole bunch of techniques around it but that really is the key to success. It is one of those obvious but very important ideas.
Susan Bratton: Now we’re going to have Shiv (phonetic) Sing (phonetic) on in the next couple of months as well to go super deep in the weeds on social media and social networking. What’s his exact title? You probably know it better than I.
Clark Kokich: So Shiv is a Vice President, head of Social Influence Marketing for Razorfish so he runs the whole practice globally.
Susan Bratton: Well I’m looking forward to that. That’s going to be fun for me. I would like you to just set him up. Give us the topline. You have a concept that you promulgate for Razorfish that you call social influence marketing. Tell us what that is.
Clark Kokich: When you read about social media, the vast majority of the articles are all about Facebook and MySpace and Twitter and those are certainly important tools, but organizing and marshalling the social influences around your brand is much more than calling up Facebook and saying, “What can we do with you guys?” There really is a new discipline that Shiv and others within our company and other companies are creating, and we think it’s new enough to the extent that you’ve had brand marketing, you’ve had direct marketing. We think social influence marketing is going to be just as important. It’s a whole discipline around identifying those people who are influencers and the things that motivate and drive them, creating from scratch environments so those people can engage, where the contributors where contribute and the observers can observe and there’s actually more observers than contributors in social media. And think about how to create those environments so that if you’re launching a campaign, we did a campaign last summer called the Summer Hub for Best Buy and a big part of that was the social component. People could submit ideas and other people comment and the ideas and the comments coming from the customers became as important as the ideas coming from the company. And so that is a good example and definition of social influence marketing.
Susan Bratton: One of the other things that I read about it in the “Digital Outlook 2009” book that you wrote, your company wrote, there were many contributors obviously, was this idea of social influence research. I’m going to just quote from the book for a second. “The evolution from measuring sentiment to understanding opinions and synchronizing net promoter scores.” What I thought was interesting about that wasn’t just moving from listening to actually connecting with and engaging with people, but the idea that when we are recruiting for focus groups and things like that, you’re actually recruiting a person and other people connected to them to learn about that person’s social graft, their patterns of influence and how they influence their friends around their brand conversations. And I’m not sure I have a question here. I just thought it was really interesting.
Clark Kokich: You explained it better than I could. I hope you don’t have a question.
Susan Bratton: I just kind of wanted to make that point I guess.
Clark Kokich: And that article in particular was a bit of a, more of a question than an answer, a thought piece because --
Susan Bratton: It was a thought piece.
Clark Kokich: The whole idea around how to or the whole challenge of measuring social influence marketing, social media, whatever you want to call it, is just in its infancy and I would not begin to promise that we’ve figured that out. But we’re just presenting ideas for people to think about.
Susan Bratton: I also liked a lot of little tidbits I picked up in the report about real-time live media experiences. And it sounds like a lot of these things that you’re doing, like the Summer Hub, like the Project Runway, the Dockers, these are all live media experiences, everything from activity feeds to live streaming media. That seems like what you as a company has done a really good job creating.
Clark Kokich: Yes and I think we’re just at the beginning. We have a few examples, a few good examples, and again that’s a result of people who striking out on their own and taking risks and innovating on behalf of clients and doing things that we didn’t know for sure were going to work. And what we’re learning is that that immediacy of the medium provides a connection to consumers that’s just not possible through traditional advertising. I remember years ago there was, I can’t remember who it was. Somebody in advertising told me about this idea of their being a wall. When you go into to a theatre and you watch a play, there is an invisible wall. The people sit in the audience and they know I’m sitting in the audience and the people on the stage are in the play. And the best actors and the best performances cause that wall to disappear and you cease to realize that and you just become part of the action. And that’s really the thing we’re striving for all the time in all of this is to break down that wall so that I’m not a consumer looking at an ad and judging it. I’m a person interacting with an experience and deciding is this useful or valuable to me. Is it entertaining? Am I learning something? Is it changing my view of the world? Is this something I want to share with other people? And that’s a completely different objective and it requires different skills and that immediacy of live stuff going on is extraordinarily effective in doing that.
Susan Bratton: I’m going to completely switch gears here now. You said the funniest thing to me that I have to share. I have to share this. One of the --
Clark Kokich: I’m really nervous.
Susan Bratton: No, don’t be nervous. But it was funny because I asked you from where you draw your strength and inspiration because you’re a very inspiring guy, a fantastic leader and you just always have been every since I’ve met you and that was probably a dozen years ago. You told me you draw your strength and inspiration from Italian wine. I like that about you. Clark, I like you even more now. What kind of Italian wine? Do you like the Barbarescos, Barbarillos (phonetic), the super Tuscans? What are you drinking?
Clark Kokich: Because it’s not the wine, it’s actually Italy.
Susan Bratton: It’s the soil.
Clark Kokich: And the idea that somewhere in the world there are a group of people that have figured out how to live and that maybe some day we will too. And when you drink Italian wine and you’re drinking people, you can actually experience the people who worked in the field and made that wine and went home and shared it with their families and, they just live better than we do, and you just, when you have a little wine you, from Italy, you remember that.
Susan Bratton: You’re just trying to get a little bit of that DNA into your body.
Clark Kokich: Exactly.
Susan Bratton: So you’re sipping your super Tuscan and you’re --
Clark Kokich: Actually I’m not a big fan of the super Tuscan.
Susan Bratton: What do you like?
Clark Kokich: I just like the Nebula grapes, the Barbaresco or --
Susan Bratton: Fruitier, not so big.
Clark Kokich: No so big.
Susan Bratton: Yes, I like the fruity ones too.
Clark Kokich: Very light Barilla.
Susan Bratton: Yes, I like Barilla too. Barbaresco is (indecipherable). Blow your tongue out, right? Some of them are just, they’re too much. I agree with you. I’m more of the fruity gal myself. So alright. You’re having a beautiful glass of wine and you’re playing your guitar. What are you playing? What kind of guitar do you have and what kind of, I know you like to chill, play with your guitar. What are your favorite things to play?
Clark Kokich: I have a fender stratocaster that I’ve had for a long time and I play the same thing I’ve been playing for 40 years.
Susan Bratton: I’m not surprised.
Clark Kokich: Yes. Well that’s not a good thing.
Susan Bratton: Well it is. It’s your comfort music.
Clark Kokich: It’s very disturbing when you realize you’re better at doing a PowerPoint presentation than playing the guitar and then you realize somewhere along the way your priorities got all twisted up.
Susan Bratton: Stairway to Heaven? What is it? I’m thinking you were born in 1951.
Clark Kokich: The blues.
Susan Bratton: Oh, you’re playing the blues. So what are you playing?
Clark Kokich: Hendrix, Clapton, that kind of stuff. BB King, Buddy Guy.
Susan Bratton: And how about your kids? Do any of them have your musical leanings?
Clark Kokich: My daughter is very musical.
Susan Bratton: Is she?
Clark Kokich: Yes.
Susan Bratton: What does she play?
Clark Kokich: She plays piano, drums. She just picks it up. It’s quite irritating. She just picks it up naturally.
Susan Bratton: Do you ever play together?
Clark Kokich: We used to but she’s almost 20 now so the charm has worn off for her.
Susan Bratton: Well it will come back.
Clark Kokich: Maybe some day.
Susan Bratton: Yes. I think it will. You just have to give her some time and she’ll be hanging out playing with you again.
Clark Kokich: Yes. Exactly.
Susan Bratton: That’s just what happens.
Clark Kokich: We can all hope.
Susan Bratton: What are the ranges of your kids agewise?
Clark Kokich: I have a 30-year-old son from my first marriage and then two girls, 19 and 15.
Susan Bratton: Now do you have grandkids yet?
Clark Kokich: Thankfully no.
Susan Bratton: Just because you don’t want to be a grandfather but you really want to be a grandfather. You just don’t want to be old enough to be a grandfather.
Clark Kokich: I do not want to be old enough to be a grandfather. I’m in complete denial.
Susan Bratton: You can just be the world’s youngest grandpa.
Clark Kokich: Yes, well I’ve already missed that opportunity.
Susan Bratton: So this is my final question for you. You told me that the book that you most often recommend to friends, the thing that has impacted you significantly is a book by Jeffrey Sax, “The End of Poverty.” And it’s about, he proffers a blueprint for worldwide economic success. I thought it was particularly interesting at this point in the world and in the global economic situation that you would choose that. Does Jeffrey have the answer and if so, what is it?
Clark Kokich: Oh, I don’t know that he has the answer. The thing that was just so striking about it, have you read the book?
Susan Bratton: I haven’t. No.
Clark Kokich: It’s very dry. He’s an economist. It’s very technical and there’s points where you go, “Boy this is really wonky.” But he does a really good job of dissecting just exactly how many people are living in abject poverty - $1 a day, $2 a day – and how little it takes to lift those people out of poverty and what a tiny portion of the world’s resources it takes to change their lives. And he has a handful of recommendations around local, about the need for water, just basic stuff – education, clean water, health, small investments in infrastructure that allow people to improve their lives and just what a dramatic impact it makes. And it’s just, when you read it it’s just, it really just kind of changes your view of the world and puts everything, all the things we worry about every day into tremendous perspective.
Susan Bratton: It also sounds like it creates a lot of hope that there’s a possibility in our lifetimes that we could change, if not solve a lot of the issues of poverty.
Clark Kokich: Well it does. The reality is hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty over the last 20 years, but not in Africa so a lot of his analysis is what’s going on in Africa. So that’s, there’s a combination of hope and seeing overwhelming challenges in Africa but he does put it into perspective. It’s not a completely hopeless situation.
Susan Bratton: Not insurmountable.
Clark Kokich: No it is not.
Susan Bratton: Well Clark, thank you so much for sharing everything from your stories to the culture of Razorfish to some of the outlooks for 2009. It’s been a lot of fun to get to talk to you again and it’s been way too long since you and I have had the opportunity to connect and it’s been a pleasure for me.
Clark Kokich: Good. I hope you found out what you wanted to find out.
Susan Bratton: Well I always have one million questions. I could have done this for three hours with you but not everyone has that much time to listen to the two of us.
Clark Kokich: I understand.
Susan Bratton: Good. Well thank you so much Clark. You have had an opportunity to get to know Clark Kokich. Clark is the Global President and CEO of Razorfish and I am your host Susan Bratton. Have a great day.