New global strategy for McCann Erickson


  • Business
  • Saturday, 15 Feb 2003

BY LINCOLN YAP

A SEAMLESS integration of an agency's skills, craft, talent, disciplines, standard and ideas becomes a unified strategy that, correctly applied to brand building, can result in the creation of a “brand voice”, a pervasive, yet non-intrusive brand identity that the consumer senses on every possible level. 

Such an ideal “voice” for a brand is by no means an impossibility as seen in the slash in the Nike brand.  

Such a slash, a mere symbol, is yet recognisable virtually throughout the entire modern world. 

This unified strategy – the melding of different skills and disciplines – works to create and develop a brand or product, be it an idea or an ad.  

It is this, the co-mingling and fusion of disciplines and skills, when translated into a single all-encompassing product, forms the basis of the McCann-Erickson WorldGroup's new direction. 

Marcio Moreira, McCann Erickson's vice-chairman and global chief creative officer, as well as worldwide director of multinational accounts had this to say: “There is a need to show that McCann Erickson goes beyond simply making ads. Since 1999/2000 we have pursued this unification – or brand building in every sense.” 

Moreira was speaking to BizWeek in an exclusive interview last Monday in Kuala Lumpur to attend McCann Erickson's 5th Creative Asia Pacific Creative Council meeting, a gathering of creative heads from around the region to discuss and implement the new direction of the internationally-acclaimed agency. 

Although it may sound like PR hype, there is no mistaking the fact that McCann Erickson is the golden boy of advertising in the world-at-large, considering that the McCann-Erickson Worldwide advertising network was only officially launched in September 1997 and is part of the McCann-Erickson WorldGroup, a mix of any ad executive's dream. 

The McCann Erickson WorldGroup comprises: McCann Erickson Worldwide, the largest agency network in the world; MRM Partners, which handles direct and customer relationship marketing management as well as on-line marketing communications through Zentropy; Momentum Worldwide handling event marketing and sales promotions; FutureBrand which takes care of brand equity and design; and Torre Lazur McCann Healthcare Worldwide, a healthcare communications network. 

In addition there is Weber Shandwick, the world's largest public relations firm allied to McCann Erickson through Weber Shandwick's parent company, the Interpublic Group of Companies, whose chairman and chief executive officer, James Heekin, is incidentally the chief executive officer of McCann Erickson Worldwide. 

With billings of US$26 billion at end 2001 and operating in 132 countries, the agency has won numerous awards and has been “Global Agency of the Year” three times in the last five years. Add to that, it has re-fashioned itself into what can truly be described as a totally integrated agency. 

The McCann Erickson WorldGroup today provides a wide range of services which includes advertising (of course), sales promotions and marketing, brand strategies covering design, management, valuation, naming and so on for brands, all aspects of public relations, and healthcare communications. 

Thus Moreira's sojourn around the world to all McCann Erickson agencies to impress upon everyone the need for the old adage that “United we stand, divided we fall (fail)” is the key to McCann Erickson's success on the unified strategy route. 

And what would be a measure of that success? Having started since 1999/2000, Moreira says that the unified strategy/direction has shown tangible results.  

“The results have been very good and we have grown as a company. The penetration (rate) of non-ad companies in our clients' businesses are more than 20 per cent and we expect to grow (some) more,” he says. 

Moreira, who also made a presentation last Tuesday night in Kuala Lumpur for McCann Erickson's clients and the media on “Redefining creativity for our times”, highlight the fact that for too long, the industry has pursued creativity according to what he termed the “prevailing views of creativity”. 

He argues that this prevailing view of creativity, with its awards and fame, can lead to, and has led to, a disorientation among creatives so much so that today “it is not the quality of the argument of wins of the day, it is the righteousness with which it is expressed.” 

Moreira goes on to say that in times of trouble, life is lived by default instead of design as signified by the loudest voice in the room defining the tone of the conversation rather than the quality of it. 

In this picture, he says, McCann Erickson enters with a new vision, an original voice, a new expanded definition of creativity, but in being dissendient, it impacts upon people and affects things and thus becomes intrusive, remarkable and unforgettable. 

To do this, a collaborative mindset is paramount, for to integrate requires courage, Moreira says, but ultimately it will reflect upon audiences no matter what they may be doing, feeling or wherever they may be. 

As Moreira has said in his presentation, the new creative mission is to speak with an assertive, augmented and ambitious voice, market-by-market, discipline-by-discipline. It needs to stretch the concept of creativity by stretching the quality and the reach of one's work.  

The new creative mission, he added, is not about the ad but about the idea, not about the execution but the many expressions and is not about persuasiveness but pervasiveness, exhorting the industry to embrace imagination that is boundless, borderless and bold to attain creativity plus. 

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