Advertising Week New York morsels
The second iteration of the virtual Advertising Week took place this week, catered to a New York audience, with professionals tackling the most pressing of issues (there are a heck of a lot!) facing the industry, including declining consumer trust and the collection of data, the lack of diversity, how to market in a time of activism and how to adapt during a global pandemic.
GroupM North America CEO Kirk McDonald discussed transparency and the evolution of data on a panel with IBM Senior VP and Chief Digital Officer Bob Lord, NBCUniversal Chairman Linda Yaccarino and State Farm Exec VP and Chief Agency, Sales and Marketing Officer Rand Harbert. McDonald says the conversation on data has become “so confused” because that “four-letter word” takes on different meanings to different people. He says data in itself is mostly “unmanaged”, but where it can hold value in delivering more personalized content to consumers is through artificial intelligence. The way to make that effort “thoughtful and intelligent without being creepy” relies on the development of AI, says McDonald.
VMLY&R Group Director of Strategy and Marketplace Diversity Amber Chenevert advised agencies on how to help their clients “avoid fake allyship.” For marketers, she says, that starts with understanding and being transparent about your brand history. “Ultimately it’s not good enough to question what is, we must be brave enough to ask how it got that way,” Chenevert says. “Especially int he United States, our history and how we built our country is full of wonderful ideas, and to a certain extent inclusiveness, but at the same time it’s been exclusive. Being brave means you can deal with the good, the mediocre and the bad, and bring together a true story about the history of your brand as it relates to the culture, the people and what that means for you in the present time and future.”
4A’s President and CEO Marla Kaplowitz led a discussion on achieving agency growth during the global health crisis with Carat U.S. CEO Angela Steele, BCW North America President Chris Foster and Digitas CEO Jodi Robinson. As much as agencies need to be proactive for clients, Steele notes how equally important it is to be “providing value to our people first and foremost.” Steele says Carat has been able to hire across “geographical borders” as the agency rethinks the work model while offices remain closed. Robinson says with the rollout of parent Publicis Groupe’s AI tool Marcel, her employees are more connected now to the network’s global teams while remote than they were in the office.
Uber drives global consolidation with MediaCom
Uber consolidated its global media account with agency of record MediaCom. The selection marks an expansion of MediaCom’s remit, having already handled the U.S. and Australia accounts. Beginning in January, MediaCom will begin overseeing all digital and offline brand media duties for all of Uber’s active markets across North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe, Middle East and Africa. The account will be led by MediaCom U.S. Chief Transformation Officer Ilana Nolte and Executive Director and Group Business Lead Latha Sundaram. Omnicom Media Group and IPG Mediabrands are the agency incumbents on the international business. According to Ad Age’s Datacenter, Uber reported $1.3 billion in worldwide advertising expenses for 2019.
“Today requires a different approach to brand building and innovation, which is why we have consolidated our global media needs with MediaCom,” says Uber Global Head of Media Travis Freeman. “The work they’ve done for Uber during perhaps one of the most disruptive times in our industry has given us the confidence that our partnership will continue to thrive globally.”
On an Advertising Week New York panel this week, Freeman and MediaCom U.S. Chief Strategy Officer Anush Prabhu discussed how they've worked together to quickly shift Uber's marketing response "in a time of activism" as well as in wake of the pandemic. In April, Uber thanked consumers for not riding with it during the health crisis and instead sheltering in place in an ad created by Wieden+Kennedy, and it also has been offering free rides to people involved in the Black Lives Matter protests. Freeman says the idea for the coronavirus ad came about during a board meeting when the company reported a decline in ridership. He says one employee saw it as a "great thing" that people were following shelter-in-place orders. "Literally five days later we had a campaign out in the market," Freeman says.
RPA helps rally pro-equality voters
Independent agency RPA enlisted actor and singer Billy Porter to rally LGBTQ+ and pro-equality voters in a new campaign for Equality California, a statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization and its Nevada affiliate, Silver State Equality. In a series of broadcast, radio and social spots, Porter urges Americans to get behind a “fight that is full of love” and which will be won by voting. He says it’s a fight for “battling the bullies, bravery over bigotry, Pride month lasting all year long,” as well as for trans rights, “families with two moms or two dads” and “Black lives; all of them.” The animated social ad voiced by Porter (below) incorporates the colors of the rainbow flag.