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Report by David Sable, chairman and chief executive officer

Photo of David Sable, Chairman and chief executive officer, Y&R

David Sable, chairman and chief executive officer

Digital is everything, but not everything is digital.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of brands. People like the convenience of ordering online, but pure-play e-commerce companies are actively looking for brick and mortar extensions. We might argue about what TV is or isn’t, but what is abundantly clear is that well-written, high-production value content – in many formats and across all channels – is what attracts big and committed audiences. And the Super Bowl still has advertising, as does Google, Facebook and Twitter, to name just a few.

Bottom line, more and more, the enablement of technology enhances our real world lives, creating a converged, multidimensional world where our business needs to be more fluid, more flexible, and far more creative.

Our view of the world is fairly simple. We believe that creativity tells the story of the brand, and storytelling has always been at the core of Y&R’s DNA. We believe that innovation is all about how we distribute the story and social applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are important innovations that enhance our ability to tell stories, just as radio and television were to prior generations in our business. And finally, we believe that technology is the ultimate enabler, allowing us to create stories with true interactivity, transactional capabilities and real consumer-brand dialogue.

Our mission has always been to resist the usual. And we translate that mission into our very powerful strategy of “Digital is everything, but not everything is digital.” Ergo, even the most basic and traditional print ad comes from a digital base and probably, most importantly, at the end of the day, everything that we drive for our clients is about real-world experience with their products and services.

In many ways this notion has freed us to do what our clients need, to offer unexpected solutions and help our clients’ customers enjoy complete brand experiences. When you combine Y&R Advertising with its siblings VML, Bravo, iconmobile, Labstore and BrandAsset® Valuator, we have a global offering that covers all the bases better than anyone else. And, of course, add our unlimited access to WPP resources.

In 2014, we helped our clients navigate a retail environment that is increasingly global, digital and personalized by consolidating more than 20 shopper and retail marketing capabilities into a single unified global network, Labstore. Out of the gate, Labstore opened new offices in South Africa, Bangkok and Manila, won its first Effie in Chile, and pitched with Y&R Advertising to win new assignments around the world.

We believe that technology is the ultimate enabler, allowing us to create stories with true interactivity, transactional capabilities and real consumer-brand dialogue

We leveraged the enormous proprietary data of BrandAsset Valuator to give our clients solid quantitative data that is both diagnostic and prescriptive. After 20 years and $140 million invested in BAV, we continued to advance both the model and study. We created regional hubs, added local consulting practices, fielded research in more markets than ever before, and integrated this data side more deeply with brand planning and our powerful eXploring capabilities. We also created a new practice of nation-branding with our BAVC group, which will launch this year.

We addressed a key client need to drive both creative excellence and efficiency by creating a global infrastructure for content creation and partnerships, which has gained incredible traction already.

We continued to support VML’s growth around the world in order to offer clients a model that gives them a seamless combination of resources from Y&R Advertising and VML when needed, while allowing both agencies the freedom to be the best in their business and utilize on their own, all of the other resources in our group. Four of the top 10 Y&R new business wins in 2014 came from VML.

When you combine Y&R Advertising with its siblings... we have a global offering that covers all the bases

iconmobile gained attention and acclaim at CES in January, where they showcased their consumer product development, particularly products around home life.

We celebrated another year of creative leadership – at Cannes, where we remained the No.4 most creative network in the world and won two coveted Cannes Chimera awards out of Singapore. VML ranked among the top three winners among digital agencies at Cannes. Our performance at Cannes was equally matched by even stronger performances in the regions. Last year we had Agency of the Year recognition in China, Indonesia, Thailand, Yangon, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Santiago, São Paulo, Hungary and Poland.

All of this added up to brisk new business – with a large surge of wins in North America for Y&R, VML and Bravo. Wins around the entire network included the major Australia Post account for Y&R Australia, a major healthcare brand at Y&R New York (the largest win of the year); AOR assignments with COBRA PUMA Golf, Krispy Kreme and NAPA Auto Parts for VML, and at Bravo, assignments from major brands, including General Mills and MillerCoors. Of the 332 new business wins across the network last year, about a third came from existing clients.

We have added depth to our senior management across all our companies, including Y&R Advertising and VML, strengthening our operations today, as well looking to the future.

Our vision is to be our clients’ most important partner. With our depth of resources, geographic spread, creative leadership fueled by our mission to Resist the Usual, we think we are well-positioned for continued success in 2015.