“We’re bringing disciplines together and making it more fluid to solve problems,” Read told Campaign Asia-Pacific in an interview at Cannes. However, he’s quick to add that the move is not a restructure. As part of this, the new Wunderman boss recruited 10 people including data scientists, technologists, creatives and strategists from across global offices to analyse “what the network had” and come up with best practices and new methodologies.
The new program is currently being piloted in four of the agency’s offices and will be extended to its Asia-Pacific offices soon, Read added.
It is Read’s view that while the link between data and creativity is growing, it is hard to get right. “It’s not as straightforward as putting a data [person] and creative person in a room together," he said. "One needs to have insights from consumer planners, business strategists and data people to inform work and we need to be thinking of data at every stage.”
Wunderman’s business has been doubling in the past five years and is among WPP’s elite billion-dollar companies. In an interview last year, ex-CEO Daniel Morel revealed that about a quarter of that revenue comes from “hard-core data” and about 50 per cent from traditional CRM retention communications.
While Read has the kindest words for his predecessor, he likes to look at things differently. Top of his agenda is to broaden the CRM offer to include all forms of direct marketing. “We have a license to go into social media, content creation, direct advertising, which basically means we have a much broader canvas to play on.” He’d like to do all this while building on the company’s traditional data strengths. “Data is an enabler in the work we do and we’re trying to develop the right data piles to get the data we need.”
Adding: “Any new CEO builds on what the predecessor does. Daniel (Morel) took a traditional direct marketing business to a billion-dollar company.”
As for his plans in the region, Read remains focused on China and India. The company has 250 people in China and would like to make its offering stronger, while making more investments in India. In Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia it’s really about building on what the firm already has. he said.