NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Three-and-a-half years ago, Shiv Singh took a sabbatical from Razorfish to do graduate research work in social theory at the London School of Economics. When he came back, he knew "social" was going to be big for marketing and approached management about starting a social-influence practice.
While CEO Bob Lord admits he might not have known what it meant at the time, he trusted Mr. Singh and gave him the go-ahead. Today, social-influence marketing is one of the agency's key strengths -- a capability singled out by its new owner, Publicis Groupe.
"Shiv is probably one of the best self-starters and thinkers I've ever come across in my professional career," said Mr. Lord. "He's very curious and innovative and he loves to experiment with stuff. It's what keeps him interested."
Mr. Singh's fingerprints at Razorfish are all over work from clients such as Mercedes, H&R Block and Victoria's Secret. He contributed substantially to a digital-marketing platform Razorfish did for Microsoft's Central Marketing Group and was instrumental in Mattel's social- and event-driven 50th anniversary campaign for Barbie, which led to a double-digit sales increase inside the U.S. for the first quarter of Mattel's 2009 fiscal year.
Mr. Singh, a self-described "impatient personality" who on the side publishes "Sommelier India," a magazine for Indian oenophiles, has been at Razorfish for nearly 11 years.
Much of his time is spent being involved with new-business pitches and at any given time he is dedicated to two to three client accounts. In some ways, he said, it's easier to talk about social influence and its impact with chief marketing officers and the people right below them than it is to talk to agency employees. "In some respects [CMOs] feel less threatened by it," he said.
"When it comes to brand innovation, this practice has helped us tremendously," said Mr. Lord. "We're seen as a leader and if we didn't have this practice in place and we didn't have Shiv we wouldn't be perceived as innovators in this area."