It's Not About New Media, It's About New Marketing

Universal McCann CEO Nick Brien: A Brand Is No Longer 'Ownable'

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NEW YORK ( -- To Nick Brien, worldwide CEO of Universal McCann, the notion of new media is almost irrelevant. "When clients say, 'Talk to me about new media,' I say, 'No I am not going to talk to you about new media, I am going to talk to you about new marketing,'" he said.
Nick Brien, worldwide CEO of Universal McCann
Nick Brien, worldwide CEO of Universal McCann

Mr. Brien said the marketing model has fundamentally changed with emerging media, and if marketers don't progress, they will jeopardize their brands.

Avoiding 'legacy' thinking
"If you are not the leader, you are going to lose your market share opportunity to a new competitor who is not encumbered by legacy mentalities or legacy business models or legacy agency relationships," Mr. Brien said in his keynote address Nov. 6 at the interactive marketing conference Ad Tech in New York.

In this new marketing model -- where media enhances personality -- brands have to become experiences and destinations and consumer insight has to be smarter, Mr. Brien said.

"A brand is ultimately a promise ... it is something that is not ownable by a corporation any more," Mr. Brien said.

Helping consumers generate their own content is one of the smartest ways to embrace the new marketing model, Mr. Brien said, noting that marketers need to become experts in understanding the marriage between traditional aspects of persuasion-based marketing and user-generated influence.

He cited a Yahoo case study, which was shown during the online giant's upfront media-buying event last year, in which more than 200 Shakira fan groups were asked to record impersonations of her song "Hips Don't Lie," which ultimately became the No. 1 downloaded song of the summer.

"It was helped to no end that this was about users participating in brand development. And there was no conventional advertising around," Mr. Brien said.

Innovation and collaboration
The new marketing model also calls for innovation and collaboration among media and creative agencies and brands, Mr. Brien said. He cited a campaign executed by Universal McCann and Interpublic Group of Cos. sibling Lowe for Lynx deodorant in Australia. To target young adult males, the campaign used insight that men find air travel sexy and exciting and then created a campaign that centered around a fake airline. Spots were created to promoted the airline, complete with sexy stewardesses dressed in tight yellow dresses and carrying the line "Lynx Jet -- Get on, Get off." According to Mr. Brien, sales of the deodorant increased within four weeks of the campaign's launch.

"The old notion of integrating and being smart players is an absolute must. ... I don't know whether it's going to go back to full bundling in the way that it was, but the plan will come back together," Mr. Brien said.

He also acknowledged that some marketers are still hesitant about embracing the new marketing model, but that agencies must teach them to love new technology and not fear it.

"They always say that the two greatest motivators are love and fear, and I find that many agencies are playing the fear card -- 'The world is collapsing, the sky is falling.' I think it has to be a love thing."

Though the new marketing model may be frightening, it is also an opportunity, Mr. Brien said, "if we have the creative intellectual juice to come up with different approaches.
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