Standing tall above the digital crowd [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]
(China Daily: Hong Kong Edition Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Advertising needs to capture the business strategy of brands, says Dentsu executive
Tim Andree, executive chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network and executive vice-president of the over 110-year 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, now has 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 in the 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 begins meetings 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's Most 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.
An international digital media exhibition in Beijing. Market research company Carat says digital spending has been increasing in the media sector, with global growth rate expected to be around 15.5 percent this year. Provided to China Daily
(China Daily 06/27/2014 page15)
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