Byravee Iyer
Apr 18, 2013

Q&A: Mediabrands G-14 CEO Jim Hytner

ASIA-PACIFIC - Jim Hytner, CEO for Mediabrands' G-14 cluster, talks about how media agencies need more respect in Japan, what wins pitches, and how the G-14 reorganisation is paying dividends.

Jim Hytner, CEO, G-14
Jim Hytner, CEO, G-14

Being the CEO of  the 14 most valuable markets for Mediabrands makes Jim Hytner a busy man. Often he shuffles between the company's 14 offices in Australia, Benelux, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain and the UK. The G-14 cluster was created in 2011, and Hytner says the results of the restructure have begun to show. He declined to share hard figures but did assert that major Asian markets are outperforming their European and American counterparts.

What changes have you started to see since the restructure?

We structure to serve our clients in the best possible way. This cluster structure works because we operate regionally with clients. The G-14 unit is the greatest marketit’s a collection of the 14 best markets both economically and historically. The reason we split this is because we're then able to prioritize investment and support in those markets. My executive team and I spend our time flying around these 14 markets ensuring they are the 14 best performers in the world. As a result, the performance in India, China, and Australia has improved immeasurably and that’s because they get the best tools, best products and we focus on them getting the best people and the most attention. Now I’m here to ensure that we see the same improvement in Japan.

How is Japan faring?

The growth in Japan is encouraging and it’s a pretty big market for us, it’s probably in the top six of the G14. So when I say I want it to improve, it’s because it’s got huge potential. We have Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and [Johnson & Johnson] as clients in Japan. But with Japan it’s a really challenging market because clients still look at the creative agency as the lead agency. So we’re going through a transition period that the US and Europe went through some years ago. It’s a tough market because you tend to be going in with the creative agency as either an equal or subordinate partner. We need to show them that media agencies are just as important.

What are clients seeking from media agencies?

Simply put: Unbelievably brilliant ideas. It starts with fantastic insights, which begin at media agencies. The reason media agencies are becoming powerful is because we have the data, but insights are useless without creative ideas people and strategists. These people are like the new creative directors of the '80s and the '90s. They are the ones that win us pitches. Clients want pinpoint accuracy on a consumer insight and content-driven ideas.

Does the new structure mean more collaboration between the three agencies?

There are three different agencies and they all operate in total confidentiality. However, like with every other holding group we build capabilities that serve all three brands that can be adopted and used independently.

What sectors are growing for your agencies?

Digital obviously. Within digital—targeted advertising, programmatic buying and search are amongst the top. The broadcast media is alive and well. That’s what I talk to teams about—broadcast media, television, radio and outdoor, they’re all alive and well because they’re interconnected with digital. Shopper sciences is growing but of a low base. At every meeting we go into we talk about it. But it’s a funny thing, I wouldn’t want anyone in the agency getting carried away with one thing. We need to be all-rounders.

This year you’ve already completed a couple of acquisitions, are you looking for more?

The two major acquisitions of 2013 have been in Asia and that’s no coincidence because Asia is a thriving, prospering region. We’re not the biggest, therefore when we make moves like Interactive Avenues and Mnet, the upside is amazing. We will continue looking at acquisition targets. Having said that, we’re also fairly pragmatic about acquisitions. There’s a lot of organic growth to be had for us around the world. While we do buy companies, we don’t buy at the rate of WPP and Publicis, which means we don’t have the failures they have. We’re far more targeted. The acquisitions we take on tend to have a very high success rate.

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