Incognito Integration, Elephant Parables and Carbonated Pop: Draftfcb, Wunderman and Arcade



Our first stop yesterday was Draftfcb, where familiar faces with crisp suits greeted us with breakfast bits. President/CEO Laurence Boschetto kicked off by telling us what he'd cover:

  • What the agency's been up to for the last three years

  • How the model's advanced

  • What the future holds

  • The work

So we began at the beginning. Where's Draftfcb been for the last few years? Hunkering down post-merger, mainly, and trying to ensure integration didn't result in too many inefficiencies. As a result -- you'll notice Draftfcb always comes back to the bottom line -- 2009 was a record year for them, despite the economic downturn.

As for how they work, the model is simple enough. Their proprietary ad measurement tool divulges that a company only has 6.5 seconds to win the heart and mind of a user. So Draftfcb came up with 6.5 Seconds that Matter, a formula for producing solid work.

The model is based on the premise that your crucial 6.5-second idea lives at the intersection of two things: a little-known fact that changes how you think about a brand (internally known as the "holy shit" number), and an insight.

For example, Vodacom wanted to reinforce its position in South Africa. After a bit of research, the agency found its holy shit number: only 40% of people use mobile strictly to make calls. The insight? Most users require all-around mobile experience.

The result: "We've Been Having It," which vaulted Vodacom to #1 favourite brand in the category. Linkage for the work was at 83%, with a noting score post-launch of 24%, almost double the South African average.

Perhaps more importantly, the cats at Draftfcb claim the expression "We've been having it" has been adopted by the popular culture.

Laurence and, later, Howard Draft, went into detail about the results and awards the company's racked up over the past handful of years. Par for the course. But maybe more telling is what Laurence said when we asked where Draftfcb's weaknesses were.

The New York office needs reigniting, he admitted; in Europe, London was an issue, but now they've got a solid strategic team. Paris is in the midst of reconfiguration, but it just beat Euro for some new business.

Howard interjected here and said, quite passionately, that he's worked hard to find people he'd be willing to go to war with. But he'd readily go to war with the people in London.

"When you have a global business, somewhere in the world someone's fucking up your business every day," he said, quoting Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

Overall this was a results-driven presentation run by decidedly capable businessmen. I told Laurence later that I found the session quite aggressive, which isn't a bad thing; he said it's not a matter of aggression, it's a matter of being direct and precise.

I was glad he said that. In the throbbing stratosphere of ultra-sensitive agencies and clients, blunt precision isn't terribly well-received. More often than not, it's misread. But it's to its credit that Draftfcb is unapologetic about it.



Wunderman's network spans 150+ offices in 52+ countries and services 92 markets. It's also growing telemarketing operations in Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.

The agency has strong direct marketing roots that made themselves readily evident in COO David Sable's presentation. Two of his epiphanies:

  1. All digital is direct. Lots of people think it's the same as broadcasting; it's not. If you're not incorporating interactive relationships in digital channels, you're wasting your time.

  2. Data drives digital. Without a strong data infrastructure, you can't have digital engagement.

He then went into his explanation of the Parable of the Elephant, whereby a bunch of blind guys feel up a gigantic elephant and conclude that an "elephant" is different things, based on what they touched.

"Then they all ride home on it," Sable stated. "

He explained Wunderman is like the Parable of the Elephant: a whole greater than the sum of its parts (the Wunderman network).

Examples of work include a redesigned Converse e-shopping platform, which prioritized imagery and attribute search (by colour, by type, coupled with illustrations so users -- which often confuse Chucks with All-Stars with whatever-else -- knew exactly what they'd get).  Shopping cart abandonment decreased 53%.

Page search landing page optimization, dedicated to making it easier to satisfy needs (benefits messaging) while broadcasting the legacy of Ford (hero imagery), reportedly also catalyzed a 14% rise in key site behaviours, as well as a 923% increase on annual monetized ROI.

What differentiates Wunderman? "We're the only truly global network in the business," Sable decided. He also said he dislikes the notion of "matched luggage" -- where all the work looks the same. Ideas and strategy should match, but each engagement on every platform should be slightly different.

A fair enough insight.



Arcade is the creative black sheep of Sony Music. Up until just a few years ago, it focused exclusively on artists. It's since opened its doors to any brand interested in hooking up.

The brand benefit? The 360-degree approach native to anybody who's ever had to market a diva (or two, or three). Arcade also took care to add it's not just tapped into the culture (particularly teen culture); what the music industry does is manufacture culture, 8 or 9 months in advance.

Quite helpfully, Arcade also has unparalleled access to music. Coke's Open Happiness campaign has repeatedly taken advantage of that. Another example: the ad for Ralph Lauren's Notorious fragrance is characterized by a sultry, enigmatic Miles Davis tune, the licensing rights for which Lauren lamented was too high a barrier.

Being chums with Sony and all, Arcade secured a competitive rate and the song was let loose, prime ear candy for fashion-forward scent-slaves everywhere.

Access to music isn't its only inheritance. It's also capable of constructing pop stars in the service of brands the same way the Spice Girls or NSYNC were created. An example of this: the rebirth of the Fantanas, three (then later four) girls that bring the carbonated Fanta party wherever they go, with help from an ingratiating jingle that never, ever, ever leaves your skull.

The girls were constructed the same way any girl band is: they were found at a cattle call, then their names were changed and they were infused with clothes and personalities that make them relatable to virtually everyone alive. You've got your rock star girl, your Latin spice girl, et cetera, et cetera. They also sing all their own songs.

The return of the Fantanas has resulted in's largest year in traffic since '02. Coca-Cola apparently considers it its most successful digital campaign. (This seems a little crazy to me, but if Arcade said it, and Miles Davis set the mood, then by gad it must be true.)
Want to make your company shine?
» Switch to a Starter Profile
The Creative Industry Network

List your company among the leaders of the industry, promote your competencies, showcase your work & join an exclusive global marketing and creative industry network.

Create Your Company Profile