Willie Pang insists MediaCom’s recent rebrand isn’t a rebrand.
“It’s a re-invention,” he tells B&T over a bottle of red in North Sydney’s famed Rag And Famish Hotel, an easy stumble from GroupM’s Sydney HQ across the road.
In mid-January, MediaCom’s London global mother ship announced a zjooshie new logo (new font, same pink) and a new mantra that was telling clients to “see the bigger picture”. Read B&T’s original reporting here.
It was perfectly scripted and saccharine coated, but what did it even mean?
Pang, 44, who’s headed the local operations as CEO since 2017 put it this way: “Quite frankly, we’ve realised that MediaCom’s competition is quite likely to be the Silicon Valley giants – the Amazons, the Googles, the Facebooks or even the next start-up that has the cool, funky brand.
“And the heritage of the super nova advertising agency, it has to be more modern, it has to have a younger feel. We want to have the conversations that marketers need to have,” he confirmed of the rebrand, again confirming it wasn’t actually a rebrand.
Arguably the problem – and even the Australian MediaCom CEO agreed – is that the agency, and many more traditional models like it, can’t escape its media/free-to-air TV heritage in an age of digital and flippancy.
“Yes, that’s our heritage and something we’re very proud of,” Pang agreed of buying spots on Seven, Nine and 10.
“But we’ve been working hard to reengineer the business and our big thing is that we believe the future is about addressable media and that’s personalisation at scale,” he said.
So what does all that mean? Pang said most brands “buy some TV, some YouTube, maybe some radio and some outdoor”.
And that, he adds, is MediaCom’s “defensible strategic position”.
It’s all about what an agency can do with search and programmatic, he added.
“What the technology does is know when you’re there, why you’re there and it will show and it will entertain you and the fundamental thing about what that does is, it will accelerate the properties that will reduce your wastage and what every creative agencies is doing now is creating bespoke bits of content.
“And that may be a 30-second TV ad or an ad for a website. So the content itself needs to be modular. My job as a media agency is to get all of the plumbing right to help deliver the client personalised experiences everywhere and I need the content to match it,” Pang said.
He confessed that MediaCom has “data on 16 million Australians”, a number apparently only bettered by a certain brand called Facebook.
“Our job is to turn that data into a firehose and stick it into the creative agency so they can get to the insights faster.
“And the second job is when they’ve [the creative agency] created the brand strategy, as part of this reinvention, is to say ‘right, we’ll help you get the right asset, if you can build your content in a modular way, I’ll reassemble it and put it into the channel so I can get the right piece of creative, for the right story, contextually, to get the right outcome.'”
Ultimately, Pang agreed the job of the media agency is to “manage investment smartly”.
“It’s the old chestnut – media investment is the largest line on the P&L but lots of other people on the C-suite don’t care about it because it’s not where the big ideas are,” he said.
“MediaCom’s job is to help the client see the big picture and we want to play a role in helping elevate the way you are looking at the media and how it connects to everything else.
“If you look at what’s going on overall in marketing and media, the facts are that business is hard – and that’s COVID aside – and CMOs are under even more pressure because I think marketing is just getting more complex and that’s where MediaCom comes in; we’re building a new agency for the future.
“Everyone wants more customers but wants to spend less money acquiring them. Sure, they’re age old challenges, but even more relevant now,” he said.