“The real power of so­cial me­dia is its power to build brands and ac­tu­ally drive busi­ness im­pacts.”

PA­TOU NUYTEMANS, Ogilvy’s MENA CEO, on why she is putting so­cial at the heart of the agency.

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - By Austyn Al­li­son

It is Ogilvy’s 70th an­niver­sary world­wide when Cam­paign vis­its the agency’s Dubai of­fice to meet Pa­tou Nuytemans. The walls are dec­o­rated with great in­ter­na­tional ads from the past seven decades, and the re­gional CEO is just a cou­ple of days past her one-year an­niver­sary in the job. She gives Cam­paign a 70th birth­day cookie and tells us a new man­ag­ing direc­tor, Philippe Berth­elot, has ar­rived to take over the day-to-day run­ning of the Dubai of­fice so Nuytemans can start con­cen­trat­ing more on the wider re­gion.

At an in­ter­na­tional level, Ogilvy is los­ing its sub-agency han­dles in­clud­ing Ogilvy One and Ogilvy PR, and be­com­ing ‘re-founded’ as just Ogilvy World­wide. That de­silo­ing is tak­ing place in the re­gion as well, and Nuytemans is fo­cus­ing on five core val­ues: client-cen­tric­ity; modern mar­ket­ing; cus­tomer en­gage­ment and dig­i­tal; cre­ativ­ity; and be­com­ing “the best place to work”.

The re-found­ing is part of the client-cen­tric­ity prin­ci­ple. As with many other agen­cies, Ogilvy is try­ing to sim­plify the in­ter­ac­tion its clients need, giv­ing them one agency that can do more, yet bill for fewer ser­vices

As well as be­ing MENA CEO, Nuytemans is also EMEA chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer and ex­ec­u­tive part­ner world­wide of Ogilvy, and so­cial me­dia is an area of ex­per­tise. She calls it “the new mass ad­ver­tis­ing”, and adds that it also ful­fils a role as “the new cus­tomer re­la­tion­ship mar­ket­ing”.

She ex­plains: “It is a medium that doesn’t only have reach and broad­cast sto­ry­telling power; it is also pow­ered by the biggest pub­lic data­base in the world. It ba­si­cally com­bines the power of broad­cast sto­ry­telling with the pre­ci­sion of di­rect mar­ket­ing.”

She adds: “I wanted that to be at the heart of the agency be­cause I knew that strate­gi­cally and cre­atively what we needed to do needed to look dif­fer­ent.”

Un­der Nuytemans, Ogilvy World­wide has been build­ing its so­cial ca­pa­bil­ity for five years now. She says it is down to cre­ative agen­cies to han­dle so­cial con­tent well, de­spite the ‘me­dia’ nomen­cla­ture. “This is one of the dis­ad­van­tages of the gap be­tween me­dia agen­cies and cre­ative agen­cies,” she says. “If you do not em­brace the un­der­stand­ing of the medium and ev­ery­thing it can do – and cer­tainly in an ad­vanced medium like that, which comes in many for­mats and with many data pos­si­bil­i­ties – if you don’t bring that in-house, peo­ple can’t strate­gise and cre­ate for it.”

So­cial me­dia has two key strengths: tar­get­ing and what Ogilvy nomen­cla­ture calls ‘se­quen­tial sto­ry­telling’, says Nuytemans: “Ba­si­cally, you know if peo­ple are en­gag­ing with your piece of con­tent and then you can re­tar­get them”.

Pre­vi­ously, mar­keters would build their brand us­ing above-the-line me­dia, then use ac­ti­va­tions and other be­low-the-line strate­gies to con­vert cus­tomers. So­cial me­dia brings th­ese two sides of mar­ket­ing to­gether.

An­other rea­son that so­cial me­dia should fall to ad agen­cies such as Ogilvy is that the no­tion of or­ganic reach has now be­come anachro­nis­tic.

“We should move away from – and this is very preva­lent in this mar­ket; there is still a lot of talk about it – or­ganic reach, and likes, com­ments and shares. So much re­search has proven that it doesn’t have brand or busi­ness im­pact. That is ab­so­lutely out­dated.”

She ad­mits there are indications mar­keters can glean from th­ese met­rics, “just as in fo­cus groups”, such as what peo­ple like and don’t like.

But, she says, “The real power of so­cial me­dia is its power to build brands and ac­tu­ally drive busi­ness im­pacts, sales, leads, sign-ups for events and so on. It’s a true modern ad­ver­tis­ing medium.”

An­other thing Nuytemans has no­ticed from her first year in the re­gion is how much agen­cies are asked to pitch. Not that this is unique to the Mid­dle East, but it is per­haps more preva­lent here than in other mar­kets. Nuytemans says of brands that “pitches is just what they do”. Pro­cure­ment tends to drive the process, which means “it’s not about any­thing, and ev­ery­thing gets pitched”. This makes for short pe­ri­ods of in­tense work for the agen­cies in­vited to take part – a guest list that is of­ten long.

Nu­tyte­mans ad­mits that lots of pitches means “a lot of op­por­tu­nity”, but also says it hurts agen­cies when mar­keters call for sub­mis­sions as though the process were free. “If [an agency] does too many of them and you don’t con­vert enough of them, it ul­ti­mately hurts our peo­ple,” she says.

One of Nuytemans’ key con­cerns is pick­ing which pitches to go for. “We can’t af­ford to par­tic­i­pate in many and do a half-hearted job and ac­tu­ally not win,” she says. “Be­cause it hurts our busi­ness sig­nif­i­cantly.”

Clients who call pitches tend of­ten look for the wrong things, she adds. “A pitch was al­ways sup­posed to let [the client] get a feel of who you are and what you can do,” she ex­plains. “It was never ul­ti­mately about ac­tu­ally find­ing the fi­nal an­swer.”

Pitches are ar­ti­fi­cially iso­lated, and the in­dus­try agrees, says Nuytemans, that “work will ben­e­fit when we can in­ter­act with our clients and talk and ques­tion and work to­gether and col­lab­o­rate, rather than do the pony trick of dis­ap­pear­ing for three weeks and com­ing back and say­ing ‘tada!’. It doesn’t work like that any more.”

She has the fol­low­ing ad­vice to clients look­ing to pitch: 1. Ap­pre­ci­ate part­ner­ship and

loy­alty. “When you’ve worked with a part­ner agency for a while it’s not al­ways go­ing to be rosy, just as in any re­la­tion­ship. But you’ve in­vested so much in those peo­ple to get to know your brand and do to all the work and to learn how you work. So if things go bad and your nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion is to repitch the busi­ness, think again. Ask if you can’t work through the bump to­gether with your friend and part­ner. Be­cause get­ting over bad times of­ten so­lid­i­fies a re­la­tion­ship.”

2. Don’t use pitches as an ex­cuse to

get free work. “Do it to re­ally get to know an agency, its way of work­ing and its abil­ity, to see if that agency fits with who you are. Don’t ask for the im­pos­si­ble, and don’t ask for any­thing and ev­ery­thing in a su­per-short pe­riod of time, be­cause by squeez­ing you are get­ting some­thing out ab­nor­mally. That’s not how agen­cies nor­mally work. It doesn’t mean they can’t work fast or do a lot, but it cre­ates a fake en­vi­ron­ment rather than a re­al­is­tic one.”

3. Pro­cure­ment. “When there is a ne­ces­sity for a three-year pro­cure­ment re­view, do you re­ally need a full pitch? If it is about fi­nan­cials, ask for fi­nan­cials. You don’t have to ask for all the work again.”

4. Re­spect and loy­alty. “To sum­marise, just re­spect that an agency is just a bunch of peo­ple. Imag­ine if some­body came to you and asked you ev­ery week for a bunch of free work. It’s un­sus­tain­able, so to be hon­est if you can help us out by be­ing a bit more loyal, ask­ing for things that are a gen­uine test of the agency, not for a to­tal strat­egy or the ex­act an­swer. You won’t get that be­cause it’s a fake kind of en­vi­ron­ment. You can help us el­e­vate the bur­den a lit­tle bit.” She ends, though, by ad­mit­ting: “We love pitch­ing, to be hon­est. Agen­cies love that, every­body in agen­cies loves it. But if it can be done within the bound­aries of rea­son that would be a great thing.”

Un­der her watch Ogilvy plans to win more. It will put so­cial me­dia ca­pa­bil­i­ties at the cen­tre of what it does, and move be­yond its 70th year re­founded and rein­vig­o­rated.

“A pitch was al­ways sup­posed to let [the client] get a feel of who you are and what you can do,” she ex­plains. “It was never ul­ti­mately about ac­tu­ally find­ing the fi­nal an­swer.”

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