HONG KONG - Smart cities developer The Digit Group has appointed Normandy Madden to the global post of director of media and innovation.
Based out of Hong Kong, Madden's main role will be to connect the firm's team of architects, engineers, urban planners, engineers and software developers with brand owners and their media and/or digital agencies, as well as the retail and travel industries and tech innovation startups.
"It's my role to bridge these communities together so everyone is moving toward optimising the end-user experience," explained Madden. There is a world of new technology, she added, that brands and agencies may not know about.
Madden will help the US-based company bring smart-city technologies, such as an MIT-developed driverless public transport system; kinetic, solar and wind energy systems; and Power Treez (solar-powered charging stations with WiFi and outdoor furniture), to the attention of brands.
"Imagine the possibilities of having brands like Nike sponsor kinetic-energy pads across jogging paths, or for Heineken to work with diverless transport systems in The Netherlands," said Madden, speaking speculatively.
In addition, Madden will manage ad sales for the company’s digital out-of-home media networks in its smart cities through alliances with leading media agencies. She will also oversee media relations and public relations for The Digit Group.
"We have about 37 potential city projects in our pipeline in places like Australia, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, as well as the Middle East and the US, and there are opportunities for outdoor and transport advertising, which I will be managing," said Madden.
Most recently, Madden was executive producer of Thoughtful China, an online video talk show about doing business and building brands in Greater China. Before that, she was Asia editor for Advertising Age.
The Digit Group created the new around Madden's specific skill-sets, she said. "The founder and CEO of The Digit Group, Paul Doherty, and I first met socially in Shanghai about four years ago—mainly because we frequented the same watering holes," she said. "We got to talking and I had him on Thoughtful China as a guest last year. After the show, I introduced him to Vincent Digonnet [chief growth and transformation officer at Razorfish International] and he wound up speaking at a global conference they held in Shanghai. They loved his presentation and he began the realise the need to, and the benefits of, communicating with the advertising industry."
Following that opportunity, Madden and Doherty started talking about creating a role for her. In August last year she left Thoughtful Media and in December began getting involved in meetings on behalf of her new employers.
"It took awhile to bring me on board due to approvals and funding," she said. "We didn't have 37 cities a year ago, but getting me on the leadership team was part of Paul's long-term plan to scale the company. As you can tell though, it's more than just a job for me. I have equity and I am incredibly excited about the space we work in."
Commenting on her appointment, Doherty said, "Having Normandy join our all-star team provides an amazing component of bringing together, for the first time, a connection of the media and design/construction industries in meaningful and exciting new ways."