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Ad Age Digital Day Two: Media, Branded Content, Talent

Ad Age Digital’s second day held a heavy focus on the evolution of media. Executives from Bloomberg Media, Daily Mail, HBO, and Nickelodeon were all part of several discussions that delved deep into their business and how brands intersect in this new era of branded content in a “post-digital” world.

Jon Steinberg, CEO of Daily Mail North America and formerly of BuzzFeed fame, told AdAge’s Michael Sebastian challenged creative agencies to step up to the plate. “I don’t want to be a creative agency, but the media agencies and brands come to us and want us to come up with the idea,” said Steinberg. “I’m still waiting for the creative agencies to jump in, and there is always going to be that opportunity for them.”

Sabrina Caluori, VP of Social and Digital at HBO, continued the Fail Forward series, this time talking about how HBO attempted to bring the second screen experience to its consumers in 2013 with HBO Smart Glass, but instead frustrated consumers by distracting from their top tier television shows, which is the main draw for the premium subscription service. Such humbling admission from a media company which is seemingly at the top of its game shows how grounded and self-aware one must be to stay ahead.

Later in the afternoon Andrew Benett, Global CEO of Havas Worldwide took the stage for a fireside chat with Ad Age’s Nat Ives. Continuing the theme of marketing in today’s “post-digital world,” Benett said this shift can be seen right down to the different workspaces seen today vs. in the 1980s, with 90% of the industry now shifting to an open floor plan model, which he says contributes to “always-on collaboration.” To that end, people and talent was a big focus of the talk, and Benett says the questions he gets most in big RFPs aren’t about award-winning work or strategy – it’s about culture and honing talent. “What do we do for internal people initiatives? How do you grow and manage talent?”

4A’s Kicks Off with Keen Insights on Building Better Partnerships

It has been a busy month with numerous marketing and tech industry events taking place across the country, and this week is no exception. The DGC team is on the ground at the 4A’s Transformation conference in Beverly Hills with many of our wonderful clients, including the 4A’s itself. Not only have we already experienced an earthquake, but also we’ve gleaned some key insights into how collaboration, trust, transparency and talent can drive better business. Whether you’re on the client or agency side, here are three things to keep in mind to create better partnerships, and ultimately, garner better results: 

1. Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration: Always a hot topic, but even more so in today’s results-driven environment, collaboration was one of the most-talked about themes. Dana Anderson, SVP of marketing strategy and communications (and a seemingly part-time comedian) at Mondelēz, discussed the fact that successful collaboration is a two-way street, and that clients should endeavor to respect and support their agencies, with the goal of reaping better work. She stressed that the more direct and specific clients can be in their briefs; the more creative, strategic and cutting edge ideas agencies can derive. Offering her own ingredients for fruitful agency/client collaboration, Anderson said it is a lot like love: it requires trust, commitment and giving.

2. The Trust & Transparency Imperative: Definitely a hot-button issue as it relates to data and metrics, but also within the context of client/agency relationships, trust and transparency emerged as two non-negotiables for getting to good work. For PR practitioners, trust is the basis for successful results. Our relationships – with journalists as well as clients – are rooted in a common trust and mutual respect for one another. We can’t lead our clients and provide solid communications counsel unless they trust us enough to be open and transparent, and allow us the room to push back on them. John Hayes, CMO of American Express, went so far as to say that he loves it when one of his agency partners tells him he’s wrong. He said it tells him they are thinking about his business.

3. Talent Wars: When you get a group of 1,200 marketers together, where the majority of attendees either work or have worked inside an agency, you can bet the subject of talent is top of mind. With increasing competition from tech companies and start-ups, agencies are facing more challenges than ever in attracting and retaining their primary currency: rock-star talent. In a fireside chat, Andrew Benett, CEO of Havas Worldwide, told attendees that the CEO now needs to play the role of Chief Talent Officer, dedicating a significant portion of time to finding and nurturing talent. He also suggested aligning your best talent with recruiting efforts, saying that when you have your greatest stars leading talent and recruitment, they become the ambassadors of your brand and ultimately recruit more great talent.

Check out this video clip of DGC Founder + CEO Sam DiGennaro as she shares her initial observations on the key themes being discussed at this year’s 4A’s Transformation conference: 

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