Tech future key to new DDB managing director

28 July 2014
Kieren Cooney

DDB has screamed its intent to bolster its tech credentials and expand the company’s creative capabilities beyond media advertising to “every customer touchpoint”  with the appointment of NBN Co.’s former chief marketing officer Kieren Cooney as group managing director.

Cooney reports to DDB Group Australia CEO Andrew Little and the elevation of Nicole Taylor as DDB Sydney managing director is also part of the management overhaul. The changes were triggered by the exit of Chris Brown to DDB New York.

Little has flagged a clear mandate for DDB to close the gap fast opening up between traditional ad networks and tech companies and management consultants.

DDB, he says, will never be a player in tech infrastructure and organizational advisory, but he does see a big opportunity for companies to embrace agencies like DDB to traverse all brand touchpoints with human insights and creativity that lifts the dry efficiency rationale of technology deployments with smart, people centred user experiences and brand communications.

“DDB is a big successful profitable agency,” Little told AdNews. “But the fact is we’re doing business for less than we were 10 years ago, which is less that what it was 10 years before. So if we continue to just focus on brilliant communications, which is still a big chunk of our business and very very important, unless we start to up our game within clients I’m afraid what I’m going to hand over to my kids is not much of anything. We have an amazing competitive advantage when it comes to management consultants, when it comes to other influences inside client companies. That creativity has to be applied across every customer touchpoint – a shopfront, a call centre; really any part of the business that crafts a conversation directly with the customer is in our sphere of influence and that’s where I want to take the business.”

The switch from client-side to agencies is Mr Cooney’s first. Before his NBN role he was in the senior executive team at Telecom New Zealand and The Leading Edge.

He said his experience on the corporate side left no doubt there was a role for agencies and outside advisors.

“The company’s (DDB) entry point is if to start to not just be about the communications, it’s about building the growth of the (client) organization which really need to get a better feeling of where the consumer is at. I can tell you there’s not an organisation that I’ve worked for that isn’t trying to do that and they need help and they are looking for it. I’d suggest agencies are perfectly placed but only after they evolve into some of those spaces that Andrew is starting to talk about."

 A full profile of DDB’s strategy will appear in the next edition of AdNews magazine out Friday August 8.

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