Agency Reorganization: Bianchi will plan strategy, and disruption, at TBWA

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Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day this week names agency veteran Carisa Bianchi to the new post of chief strategic officer in its largest U.S. office, with the charge to execute the shop's new mantra: disruption.

Ms. Bianchi, 42, was president of TBWA/Chiat/Day's San Francisco office until it lost the $66 million Levi Strauss & Co. account to Bartle Bogle Hegarty in January. She then relocated to the agency's Playa del Rey, Calif., office as managing partner.

Ms. Bianchi, who reports to TBWA/Chiat/Day West President Robert LePlae, will oversee account planning, business strategy and new business and continue to head the Sony PlayStation account.

She also will oversee Connections Planning, a means of bringing media decisions into the early stages of development of marketing strategies. Under the new system, media will be involved early on with "the way we invent a message" and present it, said Lee Clow, chairman-worldwide creative director.

But a key task for Ms. Bianchi will be extolling disruption, a new mantra from the agency that earlier created buzz around account planning and the virtual office.

TBWA/Chiat/Day defines disruption as a system for analyzing a marketer's business and finding opportunities, covering a wide range of issues from a specific product launch to a general marketing challenge. Usually, the process entails an offsite workshop for agency and marketer teams running a day to a day and a half. The goal is to dissect conventions in the marketplace and to figure out ways to break them to create new marketing vision and subsequent opportunity.

Ms. Bianchi termed disruption "a philosophy" with the aim to "grow a marketplace into something different."

it's official

The new method of developing marketing concepts officially kicked off at a TBWA Worldwide meeting in Madrid last month.

In the New York office, Laurie Coots, chief marketing officer, has added disruption implementation in the network as part of her duties, the agency told employees in an internal memo.

TBWA/Chiat/Day said the methodology was used in its meetings for its newly won $48 million Mars' Masterfoods USA account (see related story, P. 3). Future meetings are planned for Adidas, Liberty Media's Starz Encore, and Nissan Motor Corp.'s Infiniti.

The disruption scheme is the first major strategy shift under Jean Marie Dru, who took over as president-CEO of TBWA Worldwide 15 months ago. Mr. Dru, co-founder and chairman of BDDP Group, which merged with TBWA in 1998, developed and has written books on the disruption concept.

"It's the new planning," said Mr. Clow. "Account planning has gotten stale," he said, adding the discipline, imported into the U.S. by the late agency founder Jay Chiat, at first provided "a consumer voice" in marketing discussions.

Mr. Clow said account planning "has allowed itself to get shoved into focus group balloting" and become "a subjective evaluative process as opposed to a real developmental process" such as disruption, which, by comparison, is more "proactive."

He said the new discipline fits well with Chiat/Day culture. "What we always loved and love to do is burst out of the status quo," he said.

Others in the business aren't ready to concede account planning's death."Like any discipline, it's as healthy or stale as the practitioner," said Emma Cookson, director of strategic planning at Bcom3 Group-backed Bartle Bogle, New York .

TBWA/Chiat/Day, even as it tries to create sizzle around disruption, isn't abandoning account planning, which is one of the disciplines Ms. Bianchi will oversee on the West Coast.

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