Last week MEC, the global media agency where I worked from 2002-2008, marked its 10th year in business. The agency was the result of a merger between The Media Edge and CIA (Chris Ingram and Associates). To mark MEC’s decade of success, I would like to share 10 things that I learned about media and business in general during my time at the agency:
1. Mergers are hard. Combining two different companies, no matter how big they are, is incredibly difficult. MEC was one of the largest and most successful mergers in the history of media advertising. Today, the agency has over 150 offices in 84 countries.
2. Leadership must be pervasive. Agencies are not monolithic structures. Instead, they are a collection of dozens of smaller account teams and departments. Each of these teams needs to be led by managers who can attract, motivate and retain the very best people.
3. Entrepreneurship provide an edge. One secret to MEC’s success was the sheer number of entrepreneurial-minded people we had across the company. We also had an executive management team that encouraged new ways of doing things.
4. New business is essential. Because accounts can come and go, winning new business is essential to the future of an agency. Initially, MEC struggled to win even smaller accounts. But eventually everyone got it together, and the agency went on to have one of the most remarkable new-business-win streaks over the past decade.
5. Global equals growth. One of the reasons why CIA was merged with The Media Edge was because the combined footprint created a significant global agency. This was critical because today’s clients are looking for growth from all parts of the world.
6. Television is huge. As a guy who came from digital, it took me a while to appreciate how important offline media is to most marketers. While digital has arrived in terms of engagement and time spent, television advertising still holds the upper hand in its ability to reach and move consumers at scale.
7. Digital constantly evolves. It’s likely that the digital medium will never stop evolving. The important thing, then, is to have an agency that can reconfigure its digital expertise on the fly. Over the years MEC has deftly created, integrated and reinvented its digital practice a number of times.
8. Marketing matters. Even though MEC was originally saddled with the ungainly post-merger moniker “mediaedge:cia,” the brand became well known thanks to a tireless group who built it from the ground up. MEC’s marketing team has kept a steady stream of positive news and expert opinion emanating from the agency for over a decade.
9. Holding companies work. Back in 2003, MEC was a founding a partner in GroupM, the holding company that was formed with fellow media agency Mindshare. The company now also includes Mediacom and Maxus. At the time it wasn’t completely clear how it would all work, but today it’s obvious it was a brilliant move that has changed the media industry.
10. Great companies are like universities. The best companies often become a training ground for talent. It's a testament to MEC that companies like Apple, Facebook, Conde Nast, Hearst and AOL now employ people who have worked at the agency.
MEC has had a remarkable run. Here’s to another 10 great years.