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Universal McCann: Shifting Conversation

Nick Brien, president and CEO of Universal McCann kicked off the first meeting of the week in an open, loft-like space which reflected his invitation to the consultants to have a “second conversation” centering on progress and momentum.

Brien delivered on the goals he set at last year’s meeting and proceeded to outline the steps and conceptual shifts Universal has made. Brien described a transformation of Universal’s model, which strives to accomplish a marriage of persuasion and influence. “The traditional funnel is broken,” Brien noted, adding that brands need to engage consumers in a more progressive, social way. He described how more than ever Universal seeks to deliver custom solutions for its clients given a new social-marketing context, tailoring the solutions that reflect “collaborative marketing” or “conversational marketing”.

Wayne Fletcher, global head of communications and planning for Universal McCann, went on to say how Universal’s ongoing philosophical evolution and focus on curiosity serves as a “continuous force guiding our culture and thinking”. Quentin George, who joined Universal this year as global director of digital strategy and marketing innovation, addressed how digital infusion is now a “strategic imperative”.

R/GA: Theory of Evolution

Bob Greenberg, R/GA’s chairman and CEO, opened his presentation by saying how his mother doesn’t know exactly what he does. It’s perfectly understandable.

R/GA has evolved over thirty years into a top-tier digital agency by pioneering and innovating, two ideals the company still holds dear. From beginnings as a digital studio producing computer graphics and visual effects for television and film, R/GA is in the center of the digital revolution, as demonstrated with its broad capabilities in creating the Nike+ campaign.

R/GA is proud of its heritage. “We always had a strong technology capability,” Greenberg said. The Nike+ campaign included a collaboration with iPod to illustrate dynamic and real-life running experiences. Greenberg emphasized how “the two-way experience continues to engage the consumer, long after the transaction has occurred.” According to Greenberg, R/GA is poised to remain an effective partner for marketers in the years ahead as the world becomes increasingly networked and digital.

Sapient: Rooted in Knowledge

Addressing consultants during Sapient’s second consecutive AdForum Worldwide Summit, Gaston Legoburu, SVP of Sapient, indicated it was a watershed year for Sapient and for digital. Speaking of the past 12 months where Sapient had an unprecedented succession of account wins and robust growth, Legoburu said, “I’m proud to say, we’ve had an amazing time.” He repeated Sapient’s mission to realize ideas and to inform the market in a unique way, centered on Sapient’s ethographic research and backed by its global scale and perspective. Reflecting on the changes in the marketplace and the growth of digital, Legorburo observed “this year is the year digital stopped being an experiment.”

According to Legoburu, Sapient continues to produce campaigns which balance art and science, melding the concept of interactive with the craft of creative advertising -- the component that tugs at heart strings and resonates with consumers.