MindShare: Big ideas, big picture

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To take over Gillette Co.'s hard-won $600 million global media account in early 2003, MindShare crafted a 90-day transition plan so complex and detailed that it took an entire day just to present it to the marketer.

During those initial three months, MindShare fully staffed the account with 100 people, including country teams in 70 offices and hubs on four continents, and negotiated and placed media for the entire year.

"It's the biggest thing globally we've swallowed in one chunk," says Nick Emery, MindShare's chief strategy and planning officer worldwide. "But we're used to working this way for clients. We've already done it for Ford, Unilever, Kimberly-Clark. We build teams that are right for the client."

To MindShare CEO Dominic Proctor, the victory was all the more remarkable because MindShare held the Gillette account nowhere in the world, and in a seemingly endless review had to defeat two incumbents, Omnicom Group's OMD and Universal McCann, part of Interpublic Group of Cos.

$1.5 bil in new business

After the $600 million Gillette win, WPP Group-owned MindShare picked up $1.5 billion in new business in 2003, and lost just over $300 million. About one-third of those new billings came from two big U.S. wins: the $160 million Nextel Communications and $340 million Burger King Corp. accounts. Marc Goldstein, president-CEO of MindShare North America, says his agency will retain BK's media buying. The fast-feeder fired WPP's Y&R Advertising last month and moved creative and media planning to Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami.

A surprising one-quarter of new billings came from China, where MindShare has a phenomenal track record and leadership position in the world's fastest-growing media market. Another source of growth is a steadily increasing share of Unilever's business around the world. MindShare is the winner of 15 of Unilever's last 17 country reviews.

Meticulous and tenacious, blessed with a stable management team that has been in place since the company's opening day seven years ago, MindShare is Advertising Age's Global Media Agency of the Year. More than any of its rivals, MindShare in 2003 won a wide range of new business, orchestrated global client relationships and developed innovative media strategies. The previous year's winner was Omnicom's OMD.

With Unilever, for instance, MindShare has doubled its share of that marketer's media business over the past five years to an estimated 52% of Unilever's global billings, mostly at the expense of Interpublic's Initiative Media. Besides winning Unilever pitches in major markets like the U.S., Germany, Italy, India and China, the MindShare network had the depth and breadth to pick up Algeria, Turkey, Vietnam and Bangladesh. In the last battle-at Unilever, there is always a media review going on somewhere in the world-MindShare won Thailand, where Unilever is the biggest advertiser.

MindShare lost a few big ones, too. Last year Unilever's $90 million media planning business in Japan went to Initiative, following the $40 million South Africa account two years earlier.

In addition to being the world's second-largest advertiser after Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever's Communications Channel Planning system gives media a central role in crafting communications strategy, including influencing creative.

"MindShare truly operates at a global, regional or national level-they've managed to structure themselves to clients' needs, and that's unusual," says Alan Rutherford, Unilever's global media director."They're probably ahead of the creative agencies."

MindShare thinks big. In the U.K., the 50-year-old "Have a break, have a KitKat" positioning of Nestle Rowntree's KitKat brand became less relevant as busier Brits had less time for snack-filled tea breaks. So MindShare decided every soul in Britain should stop and take a break-and preferably unwrap a KitKat-at precisely 3 p.m. on March 21, 2003.

To rally an entire nation behind "Britain's Biggest Break," MindShare marshaled most of the U.K. media and an army of WPP companies. U.K. newspapers and magazines wrote about leisure time and ran eight-page inserts about taking breaks. There were in-store promotions, viral e-mails and a text messaging campaign on cell phones. MindShare media buyers negotiated the simultaneous airing of a TV spot on every channel, and convinced a talk radio station to stop talking and play music.

"The most exciting thing is that 6.5 million people stopped and had a KitKat," says Jon Lambert, KitKat marketing manager at Nestle Rowntree. "That's 14% of the population. Two things made it a success-the creative idea and getting people to hear it. MindShare put together a plan that was fantastic in range and creativity. It had to feel big."

In fact, Mr. Lambert and MindShare are already planning to do it all again on March 12.

KitKat is a cozy brand, but MindShare can be cool, too. Playing on Wieden & Kennedy's "Freestyle" spots for Nike fusing music and basketball, MindShare partnered with MTV last year to make a documentary on the origins of freestyle, and drew 30,000 kids to compete to be the U.K.'s top freestylers. MTV made short films of the best, and 200,000 viewers voted online and by text message for their favorites.

"Nike doesn't need more brand awareness," says Malcolm Russell, MindShare's London-based business director. "The media strategy was about creating experiences our audience could get involved in. The business MindShare will be in for Nike is not so much media as creating programming."


Joe Pollard, Nike's global media, digital and content director , says: "We're a fairly demanding client in the sense that we're always asking MindShare, `What's new, what's different, how are we turning the market on its ear from a media standpoint?' "

MindShare, the executive says, does a good job digging for appropriate creative ideas in vastly different markets, from the less-developed Czech Republic to soccer-mad Italy.

MindShare can even be a little nerdy. Who else would buy two seats on various European flights for Austrian pensions company AMF, and plop an AMF financial adviser in one of them? Passengers were then offered the chance to occupy the empty seat and get free financial advice throughout the flight.

"He would sit there and pitch while the passenger was stuck for 2 hours," MindShare's Mr. Emery says.

Mr. Proctor, who was also the company's first employee, attributes MindShare's success to its stability.

"We have the same management team as when we started, and stability at the top of the company is an incredible advantage," he says. Furthermore, "We're not led by one client or one continent. There are no geographic black holes that need fixing."

That's partly because MindShare was initially blocked from the U.S. market, where WPP's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and J.Walter Thompson agencies were reluctant to lose control over media buying. So Mr. Proctor set up MindShare offices across Europe and Asia first.

By then WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell had made his desire to see MindShare operate in the U.S. very clear, and the company opened in New York in 2000. Mr. Proctor, an avuncular globetrotter who ran the world outside the U.S. as MindShare's chief operating officer, became CEO last year when Irwin Gotlieb moved up to CEO of GroupM, WPP's media services parent for MindShare and Mediaedge:cia.

Mr. Proctor spends half his time in New York, where his striking resemblance to "The Sopranos' " leading character has earned him a MindShare I.D. badge with the name "Tony Soprano" under his own photo.

12% share of U.S. market

RECMA, a Paris-based company that tracks media agency networks, will name MindShare this month as the leading global media network in its 2003 Vitality ranking, based on factors including business won and lost. MindShare and its two closest competitors in size, Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest and OMD, all have global billings of about $18 billion. According to RECMA, MindShare has about a 12% share of the U.S. market among media agencies; a 9% share of the European market, which is still led by Aegis Group's Carat; and 18% of the Asian market. In fact, MindShare is the dominant player in China with one-third of the market for media agency networks, according to RECMA figures.

"China is one of our top three or four markets around the world in its contribution to the business," says Mark Patterson, MindShare's Hong Kong-based CEO, North Asia.

In 2003, MindShare picked up $200 million in billings in China from international clients such as GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth Laboratories, Frito-Lay and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Another $110 million in new business came from local clients like President Food Group, a major Chinese instant noodle marketer; China Mobile, the world's largest mobile phone service provider; and the Yanjing Group, which controls about 90% of Beijing's beer market.

MindShare Beijing's most prestigious new account in mainland China last year was the $40 million Motorola business, won in a pitch against incumbent Universal McCann and Starcom.

Janet Fitzpatrick, Motorola VP-director-global marketing, says she was impressed by MindShare's buying and negotiating power, and creative channel usage. China is the world's largest and fastest-growing mobile phone market, with demanding, style-conscious consumers.

"In our sector, China is extraordinarily competitive, with hundreds of local brands competing," Ms. Fitzpatrick says. "Our share of voice declined, so our dollars have to work harder."

China push

In MindShare, Motorola found the "spread, tools, distribution, infrastructure" the company was looking for, she says, as well as drilling deeply into mainland China, where MindShare has about 400 staffers. All but four are Chinese. Last year, the network opened three more offices in China, in Fuzhou, Chongqing and Shenzhen, alongside existing ones in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

China will become "really dominant" over the next 20 years, Mr. Proctor says. "Our view is that the overall balance of worldwide activity is shifting toward China, India and other developing markets. [China's ad market] will double in five years in terms of media billings, as well as media sophistication and availability of different channels."

MindShare executives boast that they have never lost one of their multinational clients. That may be true so far, but American Express Co., now in review, would be the first if AmEx chooses Carat or Interpublic's Initiative Media, the other two contenders. Mr. Goldstein says a decision is due at the end of February. And MindShare has failed to win some big pitches, like the $350 million U.S. Coca-Cola Co. media business that went to Starcom MediaVest in December.

"Curiously, given how terrific 2003 was, our big challenge now is to reinvent the company again," Mr. Proctor says. "The model we drew up [seven years ago] would need to change every three or four years to reflect changes in the market, so there is a need now to redirect the company for the next four or five years."

He particularly wants to develop more innovative research tools. In 2003, the company introduced MindWare and MindFlow. MindWare consists of planning and modeling tools that help planners analyze data and make budget allocation, media selection and other decisions. MindFlow is media reporting software that lets clients access data about their media planning and buying around the world. On the research front, MindShare also launched 3D with 72,000 interviews with consumers in more than 20 countries about media choice and usage.

"Clients need fact-based research into their business, more client-centric," Mr. Proctor says. "By that I mean developing absolutely bespoke teams around each client rather than around each country, so the overall MindShare is made up of mini-MindShares."


Gross wins: $1.54 billion

Gross losses: $316 million

Net wins: $1.22 billion

Major wins:

Nextel Communications U.S.

Burger King U.S.

Yahoo! U.S.

Unilever Thailand

President Foods China

Abbey National U.K.

Motorola China

Major losses:

Unilever Japan, planning only

Boots U.K.

Parmalat Italy

OfficeMax USA

Siemens China/Italy/Singapore

Cadbury Schweppes Spain/Italy/Greece

Source: MindShare and Advertising Age

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