Starcom’s Jodie Stranger on guiding clients through the complexity of data and creative tech, what media agencies bring to content creation and co-chairing the WMA jury
With the seemingly endless possibilities presented by new platforms, touchpoints and tech, media agencies are finding themselves in the middle of a precarious balancing act when it comes to developing content strategies. For Jodie Stranger, Starcom UK group CEO and president of global network clients EMEA, there’s a sweet spot for clients who are both excited and overwhelmed by options.
Data-powered dynamic advertising, personalised programmatic, live streaming, VR, PR, chatbots… there are a lot of rabbit holes to tumble down, but each option brings its own practical challenges in terms of production, scheduling, juggling assets – and those challenges multiply as campaigns roll out across different international markets.
“I speak to more and more clients who love the thought of all the opportunities that can come with technology and how data and creativity can fuel all those solutions… but at the same time, stitching it all together can be a headache and quite a lot of responsibility – and a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears for the agency and the client. So I think [you need to find] that balance where you can drive that brilliant work without completely burdening the folks who have to deliver that.”
That balance is something that Jodie will be looking out for when she judges the World Media Awards in Spring. This year Jodie is a co-Chair of the jury.
“It will be interesting to see how the work that is presented is bringing forward all the merit that it should be in terms of business outcomes, creativity, smart use of data and tech but is also simple and is not overly complex in its execution and in the consumers’ ability to engage with it and engage with the brand. I look forward to seeing how that pans out.”
The awards specifically looks at content-driven advertising that has been targeted to at least four countries, something that’s particularly relevant to Jodie right now. At Starcom, they’ve been reorganising their client teams so that local market talent and international talent can work more closely together.
“I think it’s really valuable is because I think it helps our global strategists create work that’s more grounded in the reality of what happens in a market. And then at a local level it connects them up to global initiatives faster. Ultimately a lot of the investments and product roadmaps are developed at a global level,” explains Jodie. “We’ve got a strong leadership team globally, a diverse leadership team. We’ve put a lot of effort into supporting our markets which is really important when you’re working on global brands. It’s one of the reasons that the World Media Awards is such an interesting tool because it’s hard to do global work. It demands so much of you in terms of consistency of brilliance across multiple markets and the dynamics that come with each of those individual markets.”
Media agencies are also becoming more present downstream in the production of content – that’s partially thanks to the feedback loop created by real time data and the ability to continuously tweak and update assets. We’ve also seen the rise of media agencies with their own content production units.
For Jodie’s Starcom team, they’re supported by the Publicis Media Content practice, and, thanks to the much-vaunted Publicis Groupe ‘Power of One’ directive, they’re also collaborating more closely with the creative agencies, data and tech companies within the groupe. “It’s not us suggesting that all of a sudden media agencies are better at producing content than our creative agency folk but there are different forms of content that can be produced. Sometimes we’re working in a room with just Publicis Media Content or sometimes you’re working in partnership with the creative agencies and we may take more of the dynamic element of content creation and they might take more the overall creative strategy and framework approach.”
Where media agencies really come into their own in content creation is with personalisation. “Back in the day, you produced one asset and you’d have a few variations of that in terms of spot length or page size and away you ran. It was one message to all. We have the opportunity, because of the programmatic distribution mechanics, to have variations that are personalised and are able to be delivered in a more precise way to a certain customer. And that’s really where our content teams are coming into their own because in that scenario you can easily get yourself into a world where it becomes very cumbersome for you to produce all the different options and assets. We’re trying to develop more tools and technologies to automate a lot of that so we can shape those assets in real time, responding to the data signals that customers are giving off based on their behavioural footprint.”
Starcom’s current positioning as ‘the human experience company’ means that their take on the content proposition is that they can understand and respond to real time audience signals and develop messaging content that’s tailored to these signals and contexts.
With all of these different factors to consider and balance, there’s plenty of food for thought for the upcoming judging sessions. But that’s not all Jodie’s got lined up in coming months. 2017 was a busy old year for Starcom and Jodie, so 2018 will see her putting plans into action and building on a stellar year of new business wins. In the summer she was promoted to the dual role of Starcom UK group CEO and president of global network clients EMEA. The promotion came at a time when the agency has been on a roll with new business wins and added business from existing clients, including Kraft Heinz (consolidating the account already held by the US business), Fiat Chrylser, Pandora, Merck’s consumer healthcare and more. Plus the aforementioned unification of local and international teams means that the agency is also hitting its stride with its new structure. It was, in Jodie’s own words, an ‘absolutely cracking year’ for the agency.
“We had a really great year and what we want to take into 2018 is the structure, fresh talent and a new way of working for the organisation with unifying international and local – and then build on that momentum.”
LBB is media partner of the 2018 World Media Awards. The WMAs are looking for multi-market content-driven ad campaigns. It’s free to enter and the deadline for entries is Thursday January 25th. Click here to find out how to enter.