Agency Profile: Tribal DDB Worldwide
Tribal DDB was formed last August from seven digital units in the Americas, Asia, and Europe and offers a wide range of business consulting, marketing, and e-commerce services. Its clients include such giants as Anheuser-Busch, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, McDonald’s, Microsoft, PepsiCo, ExxonMobil, and General Mills, as well as a host of smaller companies and dot-coms.
The leadership of the firm’s North America division includes CEO Matt Freeman and Chief Creative Officer John Young, both formerly with ModemMedia.Poppe Tyson before becoming founding partners of DDB Digital, in 1998. The other founding partner and now president and COO, Steven Marrs, was previously a managing director of Blue Marble AGC. Tim McHale, the Chief Media Officer, signed on last July after important jobs at i-traffic and Blue Marble.
One leading Tribal executive who actually worked the traditional side for almost ten years, first at McCann Erikson and then at DDB Worldwide, is Mark Mirsky, media director for the New York office. His early focus on the technology sector and web-related developments made his move to interactive a natural. Now, instead of being a young turk at DDB, at 32, he’s one of the old men at Tribal. “Being born out of a powerhouse shop like DDB, we can leverage a lot of thinking that’s been developed there over the years and evolve it to the next level for the web. One of the things that they’ve traditionally done well was really trying to understand the consumer, not just from a traditional media or demographic perspective, but also from a lifestyle perspective—how they are psychologically and psychographically impacted.”
In this context, in addition to using Nielsen//Net Ratings, Media Metrix, and other standard tools, Tribal planners take advantage of DDB’s proprietary research applications. These include PMN (Personal Media Network) and TDO (Typical Day Overview), which help planners hone in on the consumer as a person with particular activities throughout the day.
“With the fragmentation that all media present and the many choices that people have these days, we want to approach people at the right place, at the right time, in the right vehicle,” says Mirksy. “One of the most interesting things right now is the targeting capabilities of the online media. Here, you can always measure the results of your efforts.”
Tribal planners work in close coordination with their counterparts at DDB. “We go to most client status meetings as a unified team,” Mirsky says. “It leads to a better understanding of the client and a better understanding of what we’re doing from a total perspective. In some cases, it enables us to develop campaigns that surround the target, and it can lead to better packages and deals. The fact that we can go in and really leverage a client’s dollars across media is something that we bring to the table quite strongly.”
BestBuy.com is an example of a client “where we’ve gone so far as almost to create a media-neutral grouping,” says Tribal DDB associate media director Eric Cavanaugh, a 28-year-old alumnus of ORV Digital and TBS Media Management. “It’s been a great experience for us here, because it has helped us work with a huge client in a lot of different ways. It’s not about looking to hit online people or television viewers. It’s about aligning offline and online with specific events or opportunities that are really about the customer.”
The rich reporting available through online campaigns has enabled Tribal DDB not only to promote BestBuy’s online store, but also to drive sales and learn about their customers, says Cavanaugh: “It’s touches on the customer relationship management arena, but it carries over into advertising, in that we’re seeing what they respond to, what they’re receptive to, and what’s making them choose BestBuy over a competitor. Online advertising is a cluttered environment and we need to use data from each campaign to plan for the next one.”
“We’re not usually looking to make long-term commitments with one or two properties because we know that it’s a very dynamic marketplace, so we’ll look at shorter commitments with a lot of different sites,” says Jill Glassman, another 28-year-old Tribal associate media director who previously worked for i-traffic and CCG.XM, a division of the Cordiant Communications Group. “We then look at the results on a weekly basis, both site-wise and creative-wise, and optimize the campaign to further meet the client’s goals.” Cavanaugh says that new sites are still coming up everyday and that some of the smaller, no-name sites with core followings, have performed well for
Tribal DDB’s planners enjoy the challenge of finding the right vehicles for their clients.
BestBuy: “With everyone wanting a piece of their dollars, we’ve been able to negotiate a number of free tests on sites that have paid off.”
Glassman and Cavanaugh say they enjoy the challenge of finding the right vehicles for a wide range of clients. Interliant approached Tribal about advertising its web-hosting division. Recognizing that the target audience was very small—mostly chief technology officers (CTOs)—the planners decided to use nothing but opt-in emails in partnership with core IT sites such as Internet.com and Postmasterdirect.
“Because we understand who these people are and know that they’re not surfing websites,” says Cavanaugh, “we brought the information to them. The neat thing was that we presented a variety of different offers, always honing in on what worked best. On one drop, we had over 2,000 sign-ups and Interliant’s sales force was overwhelmed. We warned them, but they said ‘bring ‘em on.’ That’s the kind of problem we like our clients to have—too many leads to follow up on.”