Adweek published a story on Wunderman, a global organization experiencing an identity crisis. Based on a peek at Wunderman’s leadership, it appears to be a White wannabe advertising agency, having started as a direct marketing enterprise that allegedly transitioned to a digital shop and now boasts, “We live at the collision of data and creativity.” The statement seems apropos, as Wunderman is probably a train wreck. To help craft the agency’s identity, Wunderman hired a White woman to lead as Chief Marketing Officer for its 175 offices. “It’s not top down and it’s not just bottom up,” said new CMO Jamie Gutfreund in explaining her mission. “It’s a fluid process where we listen, we do 2.0, we do 3.0. We’re agile, and that’s a word we’re going to be using a lot. We’re agile, we’re nimble, and we’re flexible.” Gutfreund lives at the collision of corporate gobbledygook and bona fide bullshit.
It Has 7,000 Employees in 175 Offices, but What Is Wunderman?
Agency network looks to define its own brand with new CMO
By Marty Swant
Each day, Wunderman sets to work trying to define the image of brands like Coca-Cola and Xbox. But in the process, the globe-spanning agency hasn’t always stopped to define Wunderman itself.
Despite the agency network’s massive size, reach and legacy, Wunderman has lacked the sort of iconic identity and clear industry reputation enjoyed by shops like Wieden + Kennedy or corporate siblings like Ogilvy & Mather.
To help bridge the gap between defining strong perceptions for clients and a strong perception for itself, Wunderman today brought on board Jamie Gutfreund as its new chief marketing office, giving her the initial mission of crafting a more visible presence in the advertising world.
Gutfreund, who begins her new role today, joins Wunderman after serving as CMO of Deep Focus.
“I view the 175 offices around the world as my clients,” she said of Wunderman. “My job is to help weave the story together on a global level and also on a local level.”
For years, data and story have been two of the biggest buzzwords in advertising. Although Wunderman has been busy using both to craft campaigns for some of the world’s largest companies, it has often stayed under the industry’s radar.
Wunderman is no small player in WPP’s family of agencies, with 7,000 people—1,300 of which are data scientists—spread across 60 countries. Size alone, Gutfreund said, can make projecting a cohesive story a challenge. She said the agency’s size allows it to come up with ideas and scale them globally while also bringing them to life locally.
“It’s not top down and it’s not just bottom up,” Gutfreund said. “It’s a fluid process where we listen, we do 2.0, we do 3.0. We’re agile, and that’s a word we’re going to be using a lot. We’re agile, we’re nimble, and we’re flexible.”
Raising Wunderman’s profile has been a key pillar of Mark Read’s vision since joining the company as CEO earlier this year. In an interview, Read, formerly WPP’s digital leader and a self-described believer in content marketing, said Wunderman wanted a CMO who could help market the agency network through techniques used for clients but not enough for itself.
“If you look back 10 years, Wunderman’s gone through that transition from being a direct marketing agency to a digital agency,” he said. “If you go for another 10 years, it’s really more of the same but more emphasis on the work, and more emphasis on creativity. I think we’re very well known for being global. We’re very known for getting work done. But we could be better known for our work.”
That’s what Gutfreund hopes to improve. Over the next few months, she’ll be working to develop a plan to enhance Wunderman’s role in driving thought leadership in the realm of data and storytelling. [It’s] still unclear what that might look like (again, today’s her first day), but developing intellectual property and events could play a role in Wunderman’s efforts to play a bigger role in the conversation.
Gutfreund’s experience with studying younger demographics could in some ways provide a glimpse at how Wunderman might tackle topics of data and story. Prior to Deep Focus, she was chief strategy officer at The Intelligence Group, a strategic consulting firm focused on consumer insights and youth.
While at the company, Gutfreund led the Cassandra Report, a quarterly research and insights study focused on young consumers.
“If an organization understands the behaviors of a younger generation, it’s a way to be future-proof,” she said. “It’s a way to understand the way the world is going and to see how you need to make changes.”
A key part of her job will be tapping into the massive amounts of data available throughout the agency’s offices to think through how to come up with ideas for providing insights to spur conversation.
Gutfreund said Wunderman wants to create its own voice and own content distribution channels so it becomes more recognizable. That, she said, will help onlookers understand the “Wunderman brand.”
“What we’re going to be looking for are ways not just to sell,” she said, “but to also educate and inspire.”