Initiative Consolidates Innovation Teams, Puts Them Under Digital

Dave-Rosner-

Interpublic's Initiative unit is trying an innovative approach to its disparate array of innovation units: rolling them up. In the hope that the sum of the parts will be greater than the whole, Initiative has consolidated three separate operating units focusing on innovative approaches to planning, buying and executing media - the quirky named Amphibian, the aptly named Innovations and its apparently named Digital units - into one umbrella organization that will be headed by former Innovations chief Dave Rosner.

The three units will continue to operate distinctly, but will be centralized under Initiative's Digital unit and will report to Rosner, who becomes executive vice president-director of Digital & Innovations.

Rosner is an award-winning executive who is part of the team that Alan Cohen, now CEO of OMD U.S., brought in when he created the Innovations unit at Initiative with a mandate of crafting breakthrough media strategies based on creative thinking that leverages the assets of the media vendors Initiative works with.

The reason the new, as-yet-unnamed centralized organization is being reorganized under Initiative's Digital operations is that a good number of those efforts tend to be digital by nature, but not exclusively, says Shane Ankeney, executive vice president-managing director of Initiative U.S., to whom Rosner reports along with Michael Hayes, president of Initiative Digital Worldwide.

"A lot of what they do is driven by technology, not solely," Ankeney explains, noting that the Innovations team frequently works around analog media and physical events that spark great ideas. But even those typically tie into digital extensions, such as a deal Rosner's team recently struck for the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee.

"It's an event, but there are also online components to it. It's multiplatform," notes, adding that digital tends to be where much of the "white space" and innovative thinking is taking place with media these days.

Ankeney said the centralization of the three units under one management group, will enable Rosner's team to "sit at the table" as one integrated entity when brainstorming with clients and media vendors, but each of the units will continue to incubate and cultivate its own brand of media.

"It was a legacy thing," Ankeney said of the way the disparate organizations evolved, and the new organization was created to preserve the best of their independent thinking, while leveraging the kind of synergies that come from working together.

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