Joe Duncan: Directing Digital Innovation
From Print Supplier
to Print Buyer
About two years later, Duncan made the monumental transition from print supplier to print customer.
“I had known Jim Mikol, who is the senior vice president of print here at Leo Burnett,” Duncan recalls. “We’d often talk and share our thoughts about what was taking place in the industry as it was going digital. There weren’t a lot of ad agencies back then that were willing to invest in the workflow, but through Jim’s vision, Leo Burnett was. He talked me into coming on board, presenting me with a very interesting opportunity,” he explains.
Duncan’s challenge as director of print production and technology was to take the agency’s print department digital, Mikol—who was inducted into the Publishing Executive Hall of Fame four years ago—had explained.
“I’m happy to say that the job has been everything he said it would be, and then some,” Duncan notes, although he admits that there have been obstacles along the way.
“There are seismic changes in how work is distributed, and questions remain about who is responsible for what. Everybody is fighting for the work and trying to change their business models without sacrificing profitability,” he says.
“If you’re in the business of content development or content production right now, and you’re not interested in resolving these issues, then you’re in the wrong business,” he adds.
Just like its publishing cousins, ad agencies have been profoundly impacted by the influence of new media. “Now,” he says, “the content that you’ve traditionally produced for print needs to be repurposed for other media, or content you’ve produced for the Web or TV needs to be repurposed to print. These are dilemmas that, quite frankly, I don’t think anyone has a real handle on. We’re all out here trying new things, responding to the new demands. One thing is for sure: If you’re averse to change, this is not the place to be.”
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