Monday, September 24, 2007

MIXX Opens: Collaboration is King

American Express CMO John Hayes opened the IAB's third annual MIXX Conference & Expo with a message that underscored last night's post. "The key element of the framework we use at American Express is recognizing that the world is in the middle of an ongoing conversation," Mr. Hayes said... In order to enter the conversation today, you must work in an open environment, you must collaborate."

That's the theme of MIXX 2.7 -- and, indeed, the operating strategy for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. As I posted last night: In an always-on, digital, interactive communications environment, marketing value – now and forever – derives from the “mixx” of strategy plus channel plus content. And that, in turn, requires new forms of collaboration among marketers, agencies, and media companies.

The first panel of the day agreed. "We’re moving into an age of facilitation," said Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo and Chief Innovation Officer of the Publicis Group. Clients want companies that are collaborative, iterative and always learning." (To laughter, he described DeNuo as "misfits in toyland – 15 of the wierdest people we could find." He also said its the most profitable part of Publicis, which allows them to hire the best talent.)

David Verklin, CEO of Carat Americas, told the audience that the importance of collaboration was the reason he tore down the walls in his agency and united its North American unit and its digital unit. "We saw the rise of RGA, Avenue A, others. Our two agencies, our offline agency and our online agency, collaborated really well. But at the end of the day you could only take it so far as two separate companies… Clients were saying, 'You proved it to me. Now, we want you to manage the business as one, for us.'

"Ladies and gentlemen," Mr. Verklin told the sold-out crowd, "when you have two separate agencies, its not integration, its synchronization."

Carla Hendra, co- CEO of Ogilvy North America, agreed. "At Ogilvy, we have had for a long time a business strategy called '360-degree brand stewardship.' Digital has just made that strategy more seamless and more appropriate."

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