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Mediabrands - Nick Brien: Our business is Change management

Nick Brien, CEO of Mediabrands, opened AdForum’s 2008 Worldwide Summit in New York on Monday with a presentation outlining sweeping views of how social networks, search marketing and wireless in places like China and India are constantly changing and presenting new challenges. “Mediabrands must operate as a family,” Brien said, in order to keep up with an environment in which, he pointed out, “change management is crucial”. [Editor’s note: Brien was named in July to head Mediabrands, a new umbrella arm which now houses a number of Interpublic Group’s major media assets, including Universal McCann, which Brien had headed prior.]

The consultants were introduced to Interpublic’s new powerhouse media buying/planning unit, Mediabrands, which includes top media communications network Universal McCann, and leading media strategy and planning network, Initiative. Recent successes of Universal’s “New Thing Now” solutions for top global clients were presented, in addition to an overview of Initiative’s methodology and framework for helping clients transform media exchanges into marketing results. Operating separately but equally under the Mediabrands umbrella, the agencies envision long-term success from the collaborative nature of the group which is set up to offer global clients a truly organic experience.

Brien pointed out how Mediabrand’s focus is a commitment to “continual reinvention to remain competitive” and he added that by doing this Mediabrands will fulfill its vision of maximizing the impact of marketing investments by delivering explosive results. “Mediabrands does not want to be a company that just holds onto assets, rather we want to invest in building clients’ brands through collaboration,” he added. Mediabrands announced earlier in the day the creation of a venture fund to help bring ideas generated by its people into reality.

Leo Burnett - Tom Bernardin: We are the people focused brand leader

Tom Bernardin, CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide, wanted to talk about creativity and his agency’s philosophy which remains widely unchanged despite the shift traditional advertising towards new media business models. While many agencies are scrambling to form digital or media arms in an attempt to retain clients who are increasingly interested in interactive advertising, Leo Burnett has successfully navigated through the ever-changing landscape by forming strategic partnerships with companies that are experts in strategic planning, product branding, marketing services, digital communications and content production.

It was appropriate that the presentation was held in the heart of Times Square at the Toys R’ Us SkyBox. From the outset of the meeting, Bernardin said how he wanted the conversation with the consultants to be honest and so it would cover challenges the agency sees as well as successes. While noting Leo Burnett’s strong global growth rate, he came back to the creative theme: “the most important growth is that of our creative reputation”. Still regarded among the largest and most successful creative agencies in the world, Leo Burnett displayed a number of executions which highlighted their desire to create “acts, not ads”, including the widely-publicized Earth Hour campaign for WWF. It was a stirring example of Leo Burnett’s continued belief that creativity can change human behavior.

In terms of fundamental operations, Leo Burnett has also placed on emphasis on internal alignment within the network, according to Bernardin. “We are creating an environment of collaboration with client’s partners; we don’t have to collaborate with just our own,” he says. By bringing in key leaders from all regions to run the company as an aligned group, Leo Burnett is able to achieve the level of collaboration and creativity they seek to deliver for their clients.

Sapient- Gaston Legorburu: understanding consumer behaviour across multiple channels

Gaston Legorburu, SVP, Sapient welcomed the consultants to the impressive New Museum for a meeting and dinner. Sapient’s three pillars, according to Legorburu are “great design, strong usability, and solid technology”. Acknowledging that Sapient is a large digital shop, they remain committed to innovative work for each client -- and the breadth and diversity of Sapient’s work and digital know-how was highlighted. A number of video case studies were presented to demonstrate Sapient’s client roster and work.

From HondaJet’s “Jet as Art” to an immersive Facebook application, it became pretty clear how far in front Sapient is with their brand integration work. The meeting was also important for introducing Sapient’s people to the consultants. Legorburu provided a first-hand look at how the retail experience is changing with new technologies by showing the innovative Coca-Cola machine “We 8” that made it’s debut at the Olympic games in Beijing. The machine allows cell phone users to interact with custom digital bottles on a large screen, then purchase a uniquely labeled bottle of Coke.

Legorburu also discussed the shop’s consultancy history has helped to assist in the retooling of brands. With a strong knowledge of ethnographic research Sapient was able to help the Times of London publication transform its’ “Times Online” business. The result was a cross-generation news platform that will ensure a continuation of the paper’s “legacy of relevance”.