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Young & Rubicam Brands

Peter Stringham

Report by Peter Stringham

Global chief executive officer

Although some communications services organizations struggled in 2007, the Young & Rubicam group of companies – Y&R, Wunderman, Burson-Marsteller, Landor, Sudler & Hennessey, The Bravo Group, Cohn & Wolfe, VML and Robinson Lerer & Montgomery – found renewed strength, adding new resources and capabilities, while reinvigorating our core strengths and values.

Almost without exception, each member of Young & Rubicam Brands grew revenue and operating profit.

Most significantly, 2007 saw our recommitment to our strategy of "Best Alone, Better Together".

This concept, deeply ingrained in the Young & Rubicam DNA, dates back to the "Whole Egg" model introduced by our legendary chairman emeritus, Ed Ney, in the 1970s.

Quite simply, we believe that each of our companies must be leaders – best in class in their own discipline. At the same time, it's critical for us to be institutionally organized to collaborate so that we are also "Better Together" for those clients who want and need solutions across disciplines and geography.

Over the past few years, we have invested a great deal on the "Best Alone" part of the equation.

Our individual companies have rebuilt themselves to meet today's needs, as you will read in the following reports, particularly in developing their digital capabilities. These restructured and resurgent companies can now go toe-to-toe with the leaders in each of their respective disciplines. That's something we could not say as easily a few years ago and is a great testament to the quality of management in each organization.

We are now increasingly turning our attention to being "Better Together." While not all clients want or need a fully-integrated solution, many operate across geography and disciplines. For these clients, it's imperative to create a consistent brand experience across all consumer touchpoints.

We've taken several steps to make sure this happens. First, these uniquely demanding clients must have access to the most appropriate resources at all times. So we have empowered our global client leaders – and restructured their incentives – to ensure that they deliver the people and resources that fit individual clients' needs without bias. Every solution must start and finish with the client. Brand stewardship and integration are ultimately too important for any client to hand off to their agency. So we must see ourselves as their best ally in getting those jobs done.

The ability to integrate marketing concepts across customer touchpoints is not a skill set that is common in our industry or easy to learn. For that reason, in 2007 we announced a new program designed to ensure that Young & Rubicam Brands people are the best in the business at understanding truly integrated solutions and how to create them. We call it Ray Rubicam University, after the charismatic and brilliant creative leader who founded the agency in 1923.

Rubicam U. will be the platform to discover and teach the cutting-edge ideas that drive the best integrated solutions. It is designed to augment the excellent training programs taught in our various companies and to engender a deep understanding of how all the pieces fit together. The net result for our clients should be true value added in integrated solutions rather than simply 'one-stop shopping'.

Finally, we have renewed and revamped our BrandAsset™ Valuator, one of the very best and proven brand measurement tools in the industry, creating BrandAsset™ Consulting, a dedicated consultancy. Making this unit independent is another way of institutionalizing channel-neutrality as we approach our clients' brands.

All of these initiatives point us in a new direction and, as we continue the revitalization of the new Young & Rubicam Brands in 2008, we anticipate retaking our position as true thought leaders in the marketing industry.