Silver Agency Of The Year: MindShare Interaction

Mindshare Interaction

Brain trust has the buzz

To say that MindShare Interaction was abuzz with activity in 2007 is putting it mildly. Awash in accounts ranging from BP to Kimberly-Clark to Motorola, the digital and direct arm of global media network MindShare nearly doubled its North American staff (and is still hiring, by the way); played matchmaker, uniting two of its clients to create a phenomenally successful integrated marketing partnership; and recently landed the SAP account.

There is certainly much to celebrate as MindShare Interaction marks its second-year anniversary this month. "I think we made some good headway in our first year, but last year we were very, very successful," enthuses managing director Margaret Clerkin. MindShare Interaction caps off that successful year by garnering a nod from OMMA as its 2007 Agency of the Year Silver award winner.

In the Motherhood, a branded entertainment endeavor that had digital at its core, was MindShare Interaction's biggest, most buzzworthy program in 2007. Produced in conjunction with MindShare Entertainment, In the Motherhood was birthed as the result of a partnership between Unilever/Suave and Sprint. This union marked the first time MindShare has brought two clients together, notes Clerkin, adding that it was a perfect match because both shared a desire to reach moms, yet were not competitors.

The companies also complemented each other in terms of marketing prowess. "Unilever has very strong retail relationships, and Sprint obviously had a strong ability to service this on mobile phones," Clerkin says, and the agency wanted to be able to bring together a program that they could leverage 360 degrees - across all platforms.

And they did just that during an In the Motherhood program that was active last April through June. A series of Webisodes on motherhood starring King of Queens actress Leah Remini was at the core of the initiative and ran on an msn-sponsored site, which also hosted blogs, chat forums and games, as well as on and Sprint TV.

In the Motherhood quickly became something of a phenomenon due, in part, to offline promotional efforts that found Ellen DeGeneres running clips from the series on her talk show and encouraging her viewers to submit their ideas for story lines (the Webisodes were scripted by professional scribes, but the plots came from the public). DeGeneres also had Remini on her show to plug the project.

By the end of its run, In the Motherhood clocked more than five million views, a figure Clerkin deems remarkable given that the program lasted less than a quarter. She also reports the engagement rate surpassed all of the other branded entertainment programs on msn to date and says one of the two clients was able to tie the program back to a lift in sales. The ultimate sign of the program's success: Season two of In the Motherhood is scheduled to launch in early 2008.

MindShare Interaction, working again with MindShare Entertainment, also crafted a popular partnership between Unilever's Degree and the Fox series 24 in 2007. At the center of the campaign was a series of Webisodes following rookie Counter Terrorist Unit member Jason Blaine - a 24 character actually created by MindShare - and stressing Degree for Men's "more power than you need" message.

The Webisodes, which were filmed by members of the production team that shoot 24, were shown online at and promoted through teasers that ran on TV, in print and online. Additionally, thanks to the relationship formed between Unilever and Sprint on the Motherhood program, the content was also distributed on Sprint TV.

Looking at its body of work, MindShare Interaction's increasing success is attributable in part to its growing ability to truly meld its efforts with MindShare's other units, including national broadcast, local broadcast and entertainment.

Case in point: While MindShare Interaction had a hand in the 2006 launch of the buzzed-about Dove Calming Night Webisodes dreamt up by MindShare Entertainment and featuring Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman, the unit played a much larger role on In the Motherhood.

Calming Nights came early on, in the beginning of MindShare Interaction, Clerkin explains, so MindShare Entertainment had already come up with the concept and relied on Interaction to help develop a relationship with AOL, which would become the program's interactive distributor, and to work with the development teams on the Calming Night microsite.

"It was more of an executional/buying partnership there," Clerkin reflects, adding, "But with In the Motherhood, we have been partners with them from the idea-generation stage and have helped to build and develop the idea. We did all the research to get the consumer insights to come up with the idea, so it's been a fully integrated program from the start."

Integration is a key component to many of MindShare Interaction's programs. "A lot of people talk about integration, but when you ask them for examples of integrated work that they've put forward, there is quite a lot of mumbling into beards," MindShare Interaction CEO John Montgomery says. "We have had several programs now with fantastic results, where we've proven that looking at media strategically and in an integrated way across all media is so beneficial to a client."

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