What It Takes To Build A 'Dynamic' Agency/Partner Team

Agency executives and clients took to the stage at Advertising Week New York Tuesday morning to share the secrets to their partnership success.

First up was Alicia Tillman, CMO, SAP and Andrea Sullivan, chief client officer, VaynerMedia who moved beyond their mutual "girl crush" moment to discuss how Tillman sought to move SAP from 21 on the best global brand list to the top 10.

“I received a call during her first week to ask about what is the methodology? What is required?” says Sullivan, who worked at Omnicom's Interbrand at the time.

“Greatness is born when you bring your real self to encourage companies to build strategies and teams,” says Tillman. “I have an obligation to use my platform for good,” she says, adding that the $30 billion company operates across 180 countries with 90,000 employees. 

Today, SAP is less focused on optimization and tech buzz words to focus instead on how technology can change the environment, culture and our economy. "I have been leading with purpose first," says Tillman. When all things are equal from a functional standpoint, "what stands apart are companies that lead with a higher purpose," she says. "Companies have a great opportunity to be a leader of change." 



The next duo to take the stage was Fazir Ali, VP, head of product and customer experience and TaxAct  and Stephen Clements, chief creative officer, YMedia Labs to chat about data and privacy. 

The talk used an example of how signing up for Facebook lets the platform use any content for their own purposes and OnStar tracks your car. “Then they sell your data to the police and speedy insurance companies,” says Clements. “They say it is anonymous but obviously it doesn't take too much insight to figure out which car is parked in your driveway,” he jokes. 

While these brands are probably some of the worst offenders, consent is required to stay on the right side of consumer affinity, says Ali.

Both panelists trust well-known financial brands over startups with Clements saying his wife asked him to delete a Silicon Valley app since they don't know anything about the company, he says. Ali added, “We have an obligation as a company to make it very easy and transparent so customers know what they are signing up for.”

A great way to create a "bond of trust" is to split the legalese with straight talk. LinkedIn's change policy sits next to a paragraph with a simple, "We may make changes" message.

Clements compared the consumer privacy debate to organic food in that 15 years ago we didn't care about what we ate and fast forward 10 years later, everyone cares. "Data and privacy are undergoing a similar evolution," he says. 

Carter Murray, worldwide CEO, FCB and Eric Reynolds, senior vice president/chief marketing officer, The Clorox Company closed out the panel by talking about building strong relationships with customers. 

Clorox was a hot account up for global review and Murray landed the business after initially having to sit out the pitch rounds due to a family illness. I called him up to ask if I could take him out to dinner in San Francisco. Reynolds began the meeting with a passionate rant about the urgency of Clorox's mission. There was a connectivity about power and wanting to do great work, says Carter.

Still, the new team didn't get it right out of the gate, says Reynolds, but it laid the groundwork for the importance of trust. "We believe brands are ideas," he says.

One key to their success was putting together a team that was "ultra-collaborative and not ultra-competitive," says Murray. Added Reynolds: "The brand has to be the biggest ego in the room." 

The FCB/Clorox alliance is seeing systematic improvement across metrics. Brand landscapes are getting richer and more real. They are more human and authentic. FCB crafted a new platform that looks at what happens after cleaning and usage, all set to great music and beautifully shot, says Murray. 

After six months Clorox's new campaign “grew two household penetration points, which in my world is gigantic,” says Reynolds. 

"If people hate cleaning so much, why do they clean?" Reynolds asks. He believes that people "like the benefits" and it sets the stage for their lives.



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