Whereas an advertising agency used to be the “right hand” to chief marketing officers, now it’s one of many fingers typically owned by a holding company. “The way the holding companies work is they buy a bunch of agencies, but they don’t really work together,” says Babs Rangaiah, Partner for Global Marketing Solutions at IBM iX.
Rangaiah ran herd over a variety of agencies during his 14 years at Unilever, where he was VP of Global Communications, Planning and Digital Innovation, until last March. In an interview with Beet.TV on the eve of the Masters of Marketing Conference of the Association of National Advertisers, Rangaiah reflects on the disruption in the advertising ecosphere.
“From my perspective as a marketer, it used to be that we had our advertising agency as the right hand for the CMO and then all the other agencies were managed by them as the lead agency,” Rangaiah says. “But because of the advent of technology and data and all the things happening now, that relationship isn’t quite the same.”
Unilever went from having an agency of record to “having several different agencies and social, mobile, data, digital whatever. I think it’s difficult for an ad agency, the big agency, to manage that and lead it,” he says.
IBM’s solution is iX (Interactive Experience), a self-described “next-generation services company” with a network of global studios offering all manner of services under one roof. “What IBM has which is great is we’re not a holding company. We’re truly one company,” Rangaiah says.
One longtime client is The Masters golf tournament, for which IBM built a website in 1996 and launched an iPhone app in 2009. That work was a prelude to IBM iX teeing up the Internet of Things to enhance the viewer experience.
“They came to us and said ‘we need a better mobile solution,’” Rangaiah explains. “What an agency would typically do is make an ad that would make sense for mobile. What a digital agency might do is create an app, which might be engaging in some manner.”
What IBM iX did was put IOT sensors on 18 trees along the Masters course so that viewers would not be confined to watching what network television decided to broadcast.
“That’s a mobile experience,” Rangaiah says. “It’s very different from running an ad. It engages consumers, it provides utility, it provides entertainment. All the things you’d like to do, but it’s not necessarily an ad.”
We interviewed him at the ANA Masters of Marketing annual meeting in Orlando. This video is part of a series produced at the conference. Beet’s coverage is sponsored by Cadent. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.