MediaCom Group Photo

Gold — MediaCom

MediaCom Canada’s 2011 included a couple of big-time client wins, the creation of an executive position to head strategy and innovation, and to top it off, MAOY Gold.

The agency exhibited the Midas touch all year, convincing major brands like Yum! and Mars/Wrigley to join its roster and producing top-notch work for the likes of H&M and Maytag.

Agency CEO Jamie Edwards has steered a staff of 187 across offices in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in the right direction since taking control just over a year ago. Edwards says he was brought on as a result of senior leadership recognizing that the speed of change in the media industry was accelerating. With prior experience overseeing integration of digital investment for Aegis Media’s global client roster as head of global client service at Isobar (he also launched Vizeum in the U.S.), Edwards understands that change.

“I was keen to create a culture at MediaCom that was actually much more consumer-centric and embraced much more integrated ways of thinking,” says Edwards.

Part of his plan included the hiring of 15-year industry veteran Matt Di Paola in August as chief strategy and innovation officer, a new role at the agency. Di Paola, who moved to media from digital shop Proximity Canada, where he was VP and managing director for four years, has taken on managing strategy, digital thought leadership, as well as product and service development. It was Di Paola’s non-traditional background that drew Edwards to him.

“I made the decision that I wanted my functional digital leaders to report directly to our strategy officer, hence why I hired someone from a much more integrated background,” says Edwards. “That means digitalization is no longer a function or a channel, it is very much embedded in our integrated strategy approach.”

Another component of MediaCom’s refresh has been a focus on tools and data to bring added value to the solutions the agency develops for clients, says Edwards. In December it implemented its own business sciences division (parent company Group M also has one to which MediaCom has access) to help clients understand media mix and marketing mix modelling. It’s been placed at the very heart of MediaCom’s strategy function, under Di Paola’s leadership, to help his group focus on how to better deliver on clients’ growth targets. Kevin Keane, former analytics consultant for Canada’s first digital shop Media Contacts, was hired to direct the department in February.

“I’m a real believer in provability,” says Edwards. “Digitalization and the changing landscape allow us to prove more than ever the strategies that we’re purporting will actually move the KPI [Key Performance Indicator] needle. And I think if clients understand that there’s more provability in terms of strategy through media agencies – I’m finding that we’re being invited to much more business-oriented conversations.”

To make everything as seamless as possible internally, MediaCom’s communications planning, research and analytics and business sciences personnel all sit closely together and its digital people are in close proximity to those who work on accounts.

Looking to the future, it’s Edwards’ goal to position MediaCom as an agency that’s all about growth.

“I would love a situation where in a few years’ time if clients were pushed to really define the essence of what MediaCom does for them, they’d say it’s more akin to a growth agency: they grow our categories, they help us grow our business.”

The Facts

Staff: 187

Offices: 3

New business:

Mars/Wrigley, Yum! Brands

Notable hires:

Matt Di Paola, chief strategy and innovation officer;

Kevin Keane, director of business science