David Sable

Report by David Sable

Chairman and chief executive officer

Last May, we celebrated Y&R’s 90th anniversary.

When Raymond Rubicam opened a new agency with his name on the door in May 1923, he did so because he wanted to do things differently than was the custom of the day. He made creative core to the business. And he made research core to creative by hiring a little-known professor named George Gallup to create the very first Research Department.

Most importantly, he established our DNA with his favorite maxim, “Our job is to Resist the Usual on behalf of our clients,” which played out in his enthusiasm for innovation of all kinds. Innovation that lent itself to the highest standards of storytelling, using leading-edge channels of distribution available at any time. And, at 90, Y&R’s DNA is still very much in evidence.

True to our DNA, we understand that creativity and innovation are inextricably bound. Creativity without innovation is ineffective. Innovation without creativity is boring.

So, we are still great believers in the power of storytelling. In 2013, we ranked among the top four global creative agencies, in part fueled by our best performance ever at Cannes. Significantly, our winning Lions were spread broadly across our global network. We launched our own internal crowd-sourcing platform, The Kitchen Table, sharing select creative briefs to everyone at the agency, which has resulted in some terrific new ideas from all over the world. And, as we go to press, Y&R Singapore was selected as one of eight winners out of 900 entries in the Cannes Chimera competition, which asks for innovative campaigns to address the issue of extreme poverty.

Our winning Lions were spread broadly across our global network

We continue to invest in our proprietary BrandAsset® Valuator, still the world’s largest global database of consumer perceptions of brands and a brand management tool that is not only diagnostic but prescriptive. We also complement our data side with our eXploring practice, which immerses our planners into the real lives of consumers.

To bring our clients the best of new thinking, technology and products, we are in the third year of running our innovation incubator, Sparkplug, which offers interesting start-up residencies at our offices and connects them virtually to our entire global network. In 2013, we also formed a partnership with Shazam that gives us access to its proprietary technology. And we continue to drive capabilities like shopper marketing, which help us connect with our clients’ customers at the right touchpoints.

We are opening offices where our clients will benefit from an agency presence. We brought SicolaMartin fully into the Y&R fold, creating Y&R Austin, which makes us the first global agency brand in that vital market. We also launched Y&R in Myanmar, which offers great growth potential in the future.

Most critically, however, we continued to build VML globally, aligned with the Y&R Advertising footprint, to create new opportunities for our clients. For example, in Africa, we established Native VML by merging a top-flight digital agency with our local digital resources. Given the predominance of mobile in Africa, Native VML gives us an unparalleled platform for expansion across the entire continent. Read more on VML.

All of this added up to a strong year for Y&R – vital new business wins around the network and good growth from existing clients. New assignments came from Microsoft, Bel Fromagerie, the Bank of Montreal, Huawei, Queensland Government, Vodafone, Diageo and Erste Bank, to name just a few. Y&R North America’s double-digit growth signaled recovery in that market, followed by strong performances in Latin America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

To celebrate our anniversary in May, we launched a social media campaign – #AdvertisingIs – that engaged our entire global network and industry by asking them what advertising meant to them. The campaign culminated on an interactive billboard in Times Square, using technology from one of our Sparkplug companies, Hyperactivate. All told we reached over eight million people.

We’re a 90-year-old start-up, still innovating.

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