JOE DUNCAN Q&A — Outside Looking In

Joe Duncan has sat on both sides of the buyer/print provider fence, providing him with a unique industry perspective. With an extensive graphic arts industry background, Duncan joined Leo Burnett USA in 2001 where he currently serves as vice president, director of print innovation and technology.

Past print production and sales positions included stints at Madden Communications and Sells Printing, among others. An active participant in industry associations, Duncan chaired the 2005 Spectrum conference and was presented a Luminaire Award from the P3 printing production association in New York earlier this year.

He talked recently with Mark Michelson, editor-in-chief, to provide his keen insight on the current state of the industry, as well as the challenges that lie ahead.

PI: Having an extensive background in printing, how has your industry perspective changed now that you are on the agency side of the business working at Leo Burnett USA (LBCO)?

DUNCAN: I was fortunate to have several experiences that shaped my understanding of the value that print offers. Very early in my career, it became clear that if I did not differentiate the value of what I was involved in, at whatever stage of production a project was in, the end result would be a commodity.

Both the advertising industry and the graphic arts world are under-going evolutionary change, enabled by technology, that’s changing the way we all communicate. My experiences on the print side of the world have helped me at LBCO. Not only doing what I have learned to do—manage print—but also to deal with process of change and how to get people to be part of what they usually try very hard to avoid.

The fun part of that change for me, personally, is the opportunity to learn and collaborate at the earliest creative stages, in an effort to provide flawless execution to great ideas. Like a lot of printers, I would complain regularly about the people who create files “not knowing how to do it the right way.” Today, I am more than a bit contrite knowing that it takes a little more effort by all parties concerned to understand what needs to be created and how to execute it. Add a liberal helping of speed to market, and the entire print supply chain has a tremendous opportunity when engaged.

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