For MDC's Kauffman, It's 'People First'

Forget artificial intelligence or analytics, MDC Partners is "doubling down" on creativity, company CEO Scott Kauffman told attendees at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York earlier this week. "It’s a lot about the analog of the human brain and so I am less enamored of businesses that can simply blend themselves easily to automation."

Kauffman added that "you can’t - robots can’t do creative and you can’t digitize the creative process."
Also, "anybody, literally in a garage could log on to a trading desk and be buying programmatically for a client." MDC, he believes, has a competitive advantage with its proprietary systems and integration of its media business along with the strategy and creative functions. (Of course his competitors believe the same about their own firms.)

"It's not simply a tagline or a jingle or a headline or a 30-second television spot on the Super Bowl. It is as much about strategy and product innovation and all the different forms of activity out in the marketplace," said Kauffman.

While consultant and tech companies continue to pitch for clients, MDC isn't afraid of their competition, the executive said. "I have a little secret to reveal here that we are actually impeding on their territory. We do it every day with every client. We are consulting on strategy on media buying, on obviously creative messaging and the like."

He also thinks brands still prefer traditional agencies. "Look, at the end of the day we see very little of them."

As for his own company, Kauffman said he "literally bristles" at the term holding company to describe it. "We are not a holding company, we are not a parent company," he insisted. "We are truly a partner company. And our advertising agencies are our partners. And so we foster that environment that encourages that in different ways emboldens creativity, which is our line product," he adds. "So people first."

 

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