The Player: Making data more relevant at Wunderman, byte by byte

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Zimbabwean-born Clive MacLean borrowed an African expression to characterize his new role at Wunderman Worldwide: "It's like eating an elephant. You can't eat it all at once, but you eat it bite by bite."

His charge is to boost the WPP Group agency's reliance upon data-driven marketing tools and strategies, while standardizing them across the globe.

Although Wunderman already relies heavily on data for marketing strategies, "if you don't keep working on that and promoting that and training and rewarding and recognizing that area, it's not going to keep growing," said the 42-year-old Mr. MacLean. He was elevated last month to the new post of exec VP-database marketing solutions at Young & Rubicam's Wunderman, from president-CEO of the agency's strategic-analytics arm, Kestnbaum Consulting.

Growing data reliance will come through centralization, not by building data practices in every office. "We made a conscious decision not to open Kestnbaum or [Wunderman's database specialist] KnowledgeBase Marketing around the world," said Mr. MacLean, in order to leave "the heavy-lifting support" to Kestnbaum's Chicago headquarters and KBM's Houston and Dallas offices.

While Mr. MacLean does not expect marketers or agency staffers to be data experts, he hopes to facilitate knowledge sharing, resource management and standardization of data tools across the Wunderman network. He wants to "get out the gospel and the vision" to all agency employees-from account planners to new-business executives-that data can play a role in marketing strategies and account wins. "We want to be able to identify where it makes sense to use data," Mr. MacLean said. "The challenge is making data relevant; it's not data for the sake of data."

need to segment

Marketers' increasing supply of data makes using it effectively even more critical. "The data become more and more important because more data will be available going forward," said Troy Mastin, an analyst at William Blair & Co. "The need to segment will become greater because we're a much more complicated society," he said. "Not only do you have this complexity on who we are but also this complexity on how we get reached."

Marketers' need to reach multinational customers adds to that complexity.

"I see more and more businesses asking for a global view of their customer assets," said Wunderman Chairman-CEO Daniel Morel. "When you are dealing with Ford Motor Co. and IBM Corp., you cannot have a country or region doing data on their side the way they want," he said. Providing a global solution requires "one person sitting on top of it aligning all the processes and tools."

Fast Facts

Name: Clive MacLean

Age: 42

Now: Exec VP-database marketing solutions at Wunderman Worldwide

Challenge: Increasing the agency's use of data to create and execute marketing strategies globally

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