AAAA Conference 2010

Nick Brien Stresses Need for 'Marketing Innovation' at 4A's

Speech Outlines Key Areas Industry Must Improve on to Drive Business

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Nick Brien
Nick Brien Credit: Kipp Cheng
SAN FRANCISCO ( -- In one of his last presentations as Worldwide CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mediabrands, Nick Brien, who succeeds John Dooner as head of McCann Worldgroup on April 1, gave an impassioned speech to a standing-room-only crowd at the 4A's conference, telling his audience the world of new media calls for new types of marketing.

"I spoke with 23 of our biggest clients, and each one of them told me that they believed the main drivers of business and market-share growth would come from marketing innovation," Mr. Brien said.

During his speech, titled "Transforming Media Integration for Greater Marketing Impact," Mr. Brien outlined five things -- convergence, performance, technology, talent and partnerships -- that the marketing industry needs to address "to truly fulfill the potential of our contribution to driving business" for clients.

Mr. Brien pledged that he will work with the 4A's to see that the industry moves forward in these areas.

"If we don't understand the converging world and what's happening on these emerging canvasses, how can we imagine outstanding creativity for our clients," he said, adding that "our clients say that the industry doesn't obsess enough about performance." Mr. Brien shared his view that "hyperlocal" marketing presents a huge opportunity for marketers, and urged agencies to strike up alliances with technology and data companies to produce solutions "never imagined before."

On the technology front, Mr. Brien believes agencies must adapt their business models more swiftly to keep pace with the rapid changes in the marketing sector. "It's an area that's not slowing down but we have the opportunity, at an industry level, to design new and better marketing blueprints based on these innovations at a cheaper and faster rate," he said. "Clients are looking for more impactful marketing but they want the costs to come down."

He also addressed the talent challenge the industry faces, acknowledging the need for more cultural diversity at agencies. But Mr. Brien stressed the need for a wider diversity of skill sets as well.

"If we don't take both seriously, we are going to lose another element of what is critical in terms of reinventing what our industry is all about," he said.

He noted that his jump from MediaBrands to lead Interpublic's biggest agency network, McCann Worldgroup, doesn't mean he's abandoning the media agency world. "I am not leaving the media business," Mr. Brien said. "It's all converging and if we don't collaborate we are going to miss the opportunities."

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