Stand­ing tall above the dig­i­tal crowd

Ad­ver­tis­ing needs to cap­ture the busi­ness strat­egy of brands, says Dentsu ex­ec­u­tive

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business - ByWANG ZHUOQIONG

Tim An­dree, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Dentsu Aegis Net­work and ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of the over 110year old Ja­panese ad­ver­tis­ing gi­ant Dentsu Inc, is used to break­ing stereo­types. But it is his tow­er­ing per­son­al­ity, both in terms of height and pro­fes­sional acu­men that sets him apart from the rest.

The for­mer bas­ket­ball player who has played in the pro­fes­sional leagues of Italy, Spain, Monaco and Ja­pan, nowhas a more dif­fi­cult task on hand as he steers the Ja­panese ad­ver­tis­ing gi­ant through a pe­riod of heady change in the global ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try.

An­dree, a US na­tive and the first non-Ja­panese mem­ber on the Dentsu board, said: “To be suc­cess­ful in a global and multi-cul­tural or­ga­ni­za­tion, it re­quires cer­tain amount of lis­ten­ing and un­der­stand­ing and not ex­pect­ing ev­ery­one re­act­ing in the same way to sim­i­lar in­for­ma­tion.”

It is not fair to ex­pect ev­ery­one in an or­ga­ni­za­tion to re­act inthe same way to a sit­u­a­tion or de­vel­op­ment. But the bon­homie shared with co-work­ers can dif­fuse com­plex prob­lems and cre­ate a spirit of to­geth­er­ness, he said. That is why he al­ways be­gins­meet­ings with lots of laugh­ter.

An­dree joined Dentsu in 2006 as CEO of Dentsu Amer­ica. In two years, the US unit be­came the fastest-grow­ing ad­ver­tis­ing agency in the United States, ac­cord­ing to rank­ings re­leased by Ad Age. In 2008, An­dree be­came Dentsu’s first non-Ja­panese ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.

“I feel ex­tremely lucky. Un­til I joined Dentsu, I had never worked in an (ad­ver­tis­ing) agency en­vi­ron­ment. Dentsu took a big chance on me,” he said. Though he is rather mod­est about his pro­fes­sional knowl­edge, An­dree has a sharp un­der­stand­ing and in­sight of the global me­dia mar­ket and trends, es­pe­cially about China.

That also ex­plains why he said that ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia in­dus­try growth in China would be driven largely by glob­al­iza­tion. He also talked about in­tro­duc­ing mar­keters to new cus­tomers and the me­dia con­ver­gence, and how var­i­ous me­dia can be used for bet­ter cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tions.

An­dree said that he is par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about me­dia con­ver­gence em­pow­ered by dig­i­tal de­vel­op­ment, a sec­tor in which Dentsu Aegis Net­work is ac­knowl­edged as the mar­ket leader. He be­lieves that in­vest­ment in dig­i­tal me­dia has been grow­ing three times faster than that for tra­di­tional me­dia. “Dig­i­tal in­vest­ments con­tinue to gen­er­ate more data and the in­dus­try gets bet­ter by us­ing this data to de­velop anal­y­sis and in­sight for bet­ter sales and over­all eco­nomic im­prove­ment.”

When it comes to in­di­vid­ual com­pa­nies or brands, the ef­fec­tive use of dig­i­tal me­dia and data helps in bet­ter tar­get­ing and un­der­stand­ing the pulse of con­sumers, said An­dree.

“Part of what is hap­pen­ing in our in­dus­try is that me­dia and big com­pa­nies are in­vest­ing heav­ily in the de­vel­op­ment of new tech­nol­ogy and con­sumers are adopt­ing them,” he said. “But the bot­tom line is that we still need to come up with in­sights and ideas. In­no­va­tion needs to be driven by ideas while en­trepreneur­ship, tech­nol­ogy and cre­ative busi­ness, though fu­elled by data, are not that de­ter­mi­na­tive.”

An­dree, how­ever, said that there has been a sea change in the global ad­ver­tis­ing land­scape. “Ad­ver­tis­ing is an old in­dus­try. When I started work­ing, it was all about di­ver­sion of cus­tomer at­ten­tion ... now it is all about how you can add value and not di­ver­sion.”

The ac­tual con­tent, how­ever, needs to be rel­e­vant as the main pur­pose of ad­ver­tis­ing is to in­crease the over­all value of the prod­ucts and ser­vices, he said.

Dentsu has in the last decade gone from be­ing a com­pany with just 4 per­cent of its rev­enue com­ing from global op­er­a­tions to a firm that gen­er­ates more than 45 per­cent from over­seas mar­kets through its strate­gic ex­pan­sions all over the world, es­pe­cially its ac­qui­si­tion of Aegis Me­dia in 2013. Along with the big in­crease in over­seas rev­enue, Dentsu Aegis Net­work also boasts of the high­est per­cent­age of rev­enue from dig­i­tal busi­ness at 42 per­cent, thanks to its sharp dig­i­tal fo­cus.

“Dig­i­tal busi­ness is the main­stay of our rev­enue, while 10 years ago, it was just 3 to 5 per­cent. We have to move to a stage where our busi­ness will not be judged by out­put, or by any other yard­stick, but rather by the out­come,” said An­dree.

Dentsu Aegis Net­work of­fers a full spec­trum of prod­ucts and ser­vices in­clud­ing mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gies through dig­i­tal cre­ative ex­e­cu­tion, me­dia plan­ning and buy­ing, mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions and con­tent cre­ation.

It op­er­ates in more than 110 na­tions and re­gions around the world through its eight global net­work brands such as Carat, Dentsu, Dentsu Me­dia, iProspect, Iso­bar, McGar­ryBowen, Poster­scope and Vizeum.

In 2010, Dentsu con­sol­i­dated its op­er­a­tions in Amer­i­cas, Europe and Aus­tralia by launch­ing Dentsu Net­work West and ap­pointed An­dree as CEO. DNW be­came the fastest-grow­ing agency net­work in North Amer­ica and was later named one of “World’sMost In­no­va­tive Com­pa­nies” by busi­ness me­dia brand Fast Com­pany.

Un­der An­dree’s lead­er­ship, Dentsu’s global op­er­a­tions grew both or­gan­i­cally and through ac­qui­si­tions such as AT­TIK, McGar­ryBowen, 360i, First­born, Bos, LOV, Tap­root and Mitchell Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Group. “There is gen­eral per­cep­tion that Ja­panese com­pa­nies are slow and bu­reau­cratic,” he said. “I don’t find it to be true at all. In our case, it is the great lead­er­ship and the abil­ity to make bold de­ci­sions at the right time that aided the rapid progress.”

China, An­dree said, has been one of the key mar­kets in its re­newed dig­i­tal fo­cus. Dentsu opened its first rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice in China in the 1980s, and it has gath­ered pace since then to be the top dig­i­tal player in the coun­try. In 2013, Dentsu Aegis Net­work ac­quired lo­cal dig­i­tal agencies such as Catch Stone, OMP, Tri­oiso­bar and Ver­a­wom, to fur­ther en­hance its dig­i­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties in China.

Ac­cord­ing to Am­dree, ac­qui­si­tions have helped Dentsu Aegis Net­work ex­pand its busi­ness. “When you look at China, you will see that we are present in most of the first-tier cities. But with a lot of growth slated to hap­pen in the next tier cities, we need to ex­pand our pres­ence fur­ther in China and M&As (merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions) are cer­tainly on our radar,” he said.

If I am at home, I spend time do­ing what my wife tells me to do or whatmy chil­dren want­meto do ... with no com­plaints.

I en­joy coach­ing young bas­ket­ball play­ers.

In ad­di­tion, I am­fond of gar­den­ing, read­ing and cook­ing.

Never con­fuse ac­com­plish­ment.

by Steven D. Le­vitt and Stephen J. Dub­ner.

At home, my fam­ily and I re­cy­cle what­ever we can.

In the of­fice, I’ve cut down on the amount of paper we use for print­ing by tak­ing my lap­top or tablet to meet­ings and on busi­ness trips.

Go­ing with bas­ket­ball star Yao Ming to his grade school in Shang­hai.

I saw how he grew up (and kept grow­ing!).

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