Mr. Yolles most recently served as exec VP-chief marketing officer for Southfield, Mich., independent Doner, where he worked for 16 years. Mr. Yolles has worked with clients including Arby's, Mazda, PNC Bank and Circuit City. He talked with MediaWorks about his new role and how he plans to differentiate Universal McCann from the crowded media pack.
MediaWorks: Tell us about your new position.
Mr. Yolles: One of the things that was really intriguing to me -- because my background was on the general-agency side -- was the opportunity to brand one of the top media companies in a really differentiated way. If you look at the landscape right now, a lot of the presentations and competitions involve four or five of the same players, and the client is faced with looking at offerings that are in some ways similar -- so how do you determine which agency you want to work with?
The opportunity is to brand UM and what it stands for against other agencies, and I am specifically talking about the idea of "Next Thing Now" -- it's a positioning that we accelerate innovation in everything we do.
MediaWorks: What differentiates Universal McCann in your opinion?
Mr. Yolles: There is a really strong leadership team that has come into place in the last year or two, with [Worldwide CEO] Nick Brien and Mary Gerzema [president of U.S. operations]. Where we can differentiate ourselves is to take that innovative positioning and show real live results with clients like Microsoft, Verizon and Sony.
MediaWorks: Universal McCann's media operations and Interpublic's as a whole have faced some difficulties in recent years, including the formation and quick dissolution of IPG Media. What are the challenges as you see them?
Mr. Yolles: I am very optimistic. There was absolutely some [difficulty] at the holding company and some pieces of business that had to be defended, like Johnson & Johnson. The focus, if you go back to 2006, was on defense, but the focus going forward is offense. We have an offering that I quite honestly think a lot of people don't understand.
MediaWorks: What are your goals?
Mr. Yolles: By the end of this year, I want people to think of us as a really interesting media agency that gets it and understands where things are going. We're going from a mode of having to consolidate and defend to one where we are going to be an incredibly active and aggressive player.