Our Exclusive Interview with Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Huge
The first in a series of in-depth interviews Roth Ryan Hayes is doing with leaders in digital and marketing. Chris Hayes sits down with Aaron Shapiro, the CEO of Huge, to talk about what's happening now with digital technology, where it's going, and the implication for users and marketers. Read the full interview posted May 3rd, 2017 here.
Hayes: What would you consider to be the greatest threats to staying relevant in the market for an already established business? What is most important for a startup to gain traction in that same market?
Shapiro: The way I think about this is that for any given market there’s a race. On one side you have established businesses that have the market power and resources. On the other you have startups and smaller companies that have no market share but have the necessary talent and nimbleness. The battle hinges on what happens first: does the small company build enough momentum and market share to become unstoppable, or does the big company change fast enough to stomp out the threat?
This dynamic is playing out in every industry. If you take Huge as an example in the agency marketplace, we exist today because 10 years ago the traditional creative agencies which dominated the industry couldn’t do digital. Clients took a risk on startups like Huge and we’re now one of the fastest-growing agencies and are shaping what the industry looks like today.
Conversely, look at the wealth management space. Startups like Wealthfund and Betterment sent a shock through the industry with robo-advisor products. But companies like Charles Schwab and Vanguard are adapting fast enough to drive growth and stay on top in the industry.
Hayes: Where do you see virtual reality going forward? Will it be a revolutionary shift, or a slight change? What should brands be doing about it right now?
Shapiro: There’s obviously a ton of hype around VR right now that makes sense when you put on a headset and experience how amazing it can be. Two of the major challenges facing manufacturers and content creators are the small install base and the fact that putting on a headset is a fundamentally different way to consume content than most people are used to. Today we are used to hanging out on the couch at home to watch TV, so putting on a headset for a solo experience is very different experience, although more and more content is being watched on phones and tablets, so that may be less of a barrier for people over time.
There are some clear applications for VR in gaming and in industrial or workplace environments that make sense for specific companies to pursue right now, but for most brands the primary reason to do VR is the hype associated with it and the ancillary press you get from launching something cool. The truth is the number of people you can reach with a VR experience at the moment is very small, so it makes the most sense for reaching influencers with a very specific experience that communicates something more effectively.
It’s actually augmented reality that has the most immediate potential for most brands. We saw how something like Pokemon Go could become very popular overnight by layering digital information over the real world. For the most part, AR works on devices that people already carry around every day and can offer real utility for both consumers and businesses in all sorts of environments.
One final thing I will say about VR is that virtual reality sickness and the headaches that some people get after using these devices appears to be a real problem that affects a potentially significant part of the general population. This is similar to motion sickness or the simulator sickness that affects as many as 40% of military pilots. When most people try on VR headsets, they aren’t using them for more than a couple minutes, so it’s not impossible that the physiological barriers many people experience could hamper widespread adoption in the coming years.
Several more questions and answers can be found at the original article here.
Party City just hired Hill Holliday as its lead agency for creative, digital and media duties following a competitive review, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Zimmerman, which has worked on the Party City business since 2009, competed in the recent pitch. Consulting firm Roth Ryan Hayes supported the review.
"While we are sorry to part ways with Party City, we understand that new management often triggers new agencies," Zimmerman CEO Michael Goldberg said in an emailed statement.
"That said," he added, "we will always root for them and take pride knowing we helped them double their revenue, more than doubled their profits, increased unaided awareness from 26% to 86% and drove positive comp sales every year of our relationship -- something unheard of in today's retail marketplace."
Representatives from Party City were not immediately available for comment. Hill Holliday representatives declined to comment.
Hill Holliday, one of Ad Age's 2017 Agencies to Watch, has had a busy year so far. The Boston-based shop promoted Chief Growth Officer Chris Wallrapp to president in January, a role that's been vacant since Karen Kaplan became CEO in 2013. And earlier this month, the agency worked with Tempur-Pedic on a new national advertising campaign, "This Sleep Is Power," that focuses on about the deeper benefits of a good night's sleep and how a restful sleep on a Tempur-Pedic mattress can help fuel achievements.
In its first work for Party City eight years ago, Zimmerman began using Michael Jackson's "Thriller" to drum up Halloween sales -- the use of the popular hit, whether with laughing devil babies or dancing zombies, became a tradition repeated every October.
Though it has online competition, Party City has been able to hold its own in attracting shoppers to its 934 brick-and-mortar locations, CEO Jim Harrison said on a recent conference call. The brand grew its ecommerce business in 2016 at double the pace of 2015, he noted.
"While the topic of ecommerce encroachment is a major focus in many industries, the majority of retail shopping in our categories still happens within the four walls of our stores," Mr. Harrison said on the call. He also noted that since nearly half of Party City products are made in the U.S., the chain will not be subjected to the same pressures as competitors of a potential border tax.
Still, the company, which was founded in 1986, did suffer a sales hit with the delay of Halloween from the weekend to a Monday last year, and the loss trickled into the fourth quarter. Earlier this month, Party City reported that same-store sales were down 3.5% in the fourth quarter and revenue fell 4.1% to $749 million, compared with the year-earlier period.
Party City has also had a recent shakeup with some of its leadership. In November, the chain hired Ryan Vero, formerly of Sears, as exec VP of parent company Party City Holdco Inc. and president of the retail group. It also expanded responsibilities for PCHI President Gregg Melnick to include global strategy with relation to IT and supply and logistics.
The new relationship with Hill Holliday could help the retailer expand into new sources of revenue. Party City, which spent $38.3 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media, is exploring new uses for its existing products, which could range from an increased presence in sporting events with souvenir cups to balloons in movie theaters.
"We have the ability now to make party goods, but a lot of what you make are really just products that have alternative uses, not just for parties," said Mr. Harrison on the conference call, noting that, at $60 million, the category is a growing piece of business.
The following article appeared in AdAge on Thursday, March 9, 2017. Read the original here.
Activision Blizzard Nears Final Round of Global Media Review
By Lindsay Stein.
Gaming giant Activision Blizzard is heading toward the final round of its global media review, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Omnicom's OMD currently handles the U.S. media, while WPP's MEC works on the company's international media business. Representatives from the two incumbents were not immediately available for comment.
Consultancy Roth Ryan Hayes is supporting the media review, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The same people said four agencies are in the finals for the review and one shop is expected to be selected for the entire global account.
Representatives from Activision Blizzard and Roth Ryan Hayes declined to comment.
In 2011, Activision shifted its North American media business, which was $150 million at the time, from MEC to OMD without a review, Ad Age previously reported. MEC continued to handle the business in Europe and Asia Pacific.
Activision Blizzard, which saw global revenue of $6.1 billion last year, spent about $133 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2015, according to the Ad Age Datacenter
Last fall, Activision appointed 21st Century Fox executive Pete Vlastelica CEO of its Major League Gaming online network as part of the company's move to take over the emerging professional video-game play business. Activision held a "Call of Duty" World Championship in Los Angeles in September and delivered an $800,000 prize to the first place team EnvyUs.
The following article appeared on MediaPost on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017. Read the original here.
Agencies Will See Less Red When Pitching Clients: Redbooks, RRH Offer Free, Self-Serve Listings
By Joe Mandese, editor in chief
In what they claim is an industry first, ad agencies will not be charged to list their vital information in a database used by a major search consultant managing reviews for marketers looking for new agencies, as part of a new deal being announced today by industry database publisher Redbooks and search consultant Roth Ryan Hayes (RRH).
The proprietary deal, which is effective immediately, gives RRH access to Redbooks' database of more than 14,000 agencies.
To ensure their data is accurate and current, Redbooks is providing a real-time link for agencies to update their information on a self-serve basis at www.redbooks.com/RRH.
Redbooks said “creating and maintaining agency listings is free to the agency, and will include questions whose responses are only viewable by Roth Ryan Hayes consultants,” and asserted the model is counter to an industry trend of “charging fees for agency listings.”
RRH CEO Matt Ryan touted the deal as “game-changing.” The management consultancy handles agency reviews for brands such as BMW, New York Life and Citibank.
The following article appeared on AdWeek's AgencySpy on Monday, December 19th, 2016. Read the original here.
Critical Mass Wins BMW Web Design Review; KBS Will Retain Lead Agency Status
By Patrick Coffee
BMW has picked Omnicom’s Critical Mass as its lead agency for U.S. web design and development after a procurement-led review.
This means that MDC Partners’ KBS, which has been lead agency for the luxury car giant since beating out Grey, The Martin Agency and others in a 2011 review, will no longer work on that portion of the business. KBS has managed BMW’s web presence for several years and defended its account in the review.
“The recent RFP covers our web business at BMWUSA.com,” wrote a company spokesperson today. “KBS will continue as BMW of North America’s lead agency and creative partner – and as our agency of record for all above the line marketing efforts. As such, they will also work closely with Critical Mass and our other agency partners.”
BMW has held several agency reviews this year both domestically and internationally. UM retained media agency of record status in a review that ended earlier this year, and various parties confirmed today that Laundry Service won social media work in a review earlier this year. AdAge’s writeup also notes that Gale Partners, another MDC shop, also won CRM duties
KBS global CEO Guy Hayward provided the following statement:
“We are incredibly proud of the 10-years of work we’ve done on the BMW website, which has delivered increased leads every year and dozens of creative awards. We are excited for the next chapter as BMW’s creative AOR, a role in which we will continue to innovate and set the bar in the category.”
KBS declined to elaborate beyond that quote and Critical Mass has not responded to emails regarding the win.
AdAge’s coverage of the news includes a section implying that KBS may soon lose the entire account. We haven’t heard that recently, though one source stated that the agency had been handling a smaller share of the client’s social media work prior to the Laundry Service review.
The relationship between the parties has been changing, however. Last month KBS did part with two ECDs, one of whom effectively ran digital for BMW, though a spokesperson said that move was unrelated to the business. The client also brought the BMW Films team back together for October’s short starring Clive Owen, and KBS did not work on that project.
The following article appeared on AdAge on Monday, December 19th, 2016. Read the original here.
KBS Has Lost Significant BMW Business
By Lindsay Stein, E.J. Schultz
BMW has made several agency changes in the U.S., bringing new shops aboard to handle duties once performed by MDC Partners' KBS. KBS remains the luxury automaker's lead creative agency, but the shop has recently lost significant assignments including social media, CRM and web development responsibilities.
The latest shift came late last week when BMW tapped Omnicom's Critical Mass to handle web development following a competitive review. The finalists in the review included KBS, Huge, IBM and Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, according to people familiar with the review. Trudy Hardy, VP-marketing at BMW North America, confirmed the agency change on Monday.
The scope includes handling all of the needs of BMWUSA.com as well as supporting dealer web sites, she said. She declined to reveal budget figures. But people familiar with the matter said the web development account is worth between $10 to $15 million. Representatives from Critical Mass were not immediately available for comment.
"The website is still our virtual showroom to the world," Ms. Hardy said. "We get close to 4 million visitors every single month. It's important." Part of the assignment includes evaluating the role that third-party sites are playing in the car-buying process, she said. BMW wants to examine best practices from outside the auto industry "just to make sure that we are keeping up with the needs of consumers because there are more real-time shoppers now," Ms. Hardy said. Other priorities include ensuring the site is mobile-friendly.
Roth Ryan Hayes supported the review. The consulting shop, formerly Roth Associates, was acquired and renamed by Matt Ryan, former New York co-chairman and global brands president of Havas Worldwide, and Chris Hayes, most recently global chief marketing officer of Code and Theory, in April. Representatives declined to comment about the BMW review. KBS did not immediately provide comment.
The agency switch comes after KBS recently lost BMW's social media business to Laundry Service and the CRM account to MDC's Gale Partners. For CRM, Ms. Hardy said the auto marketer sought specialized data analytics capabilities for which she said Gale had an "outstanding competency."
KBS emphasized its continuing role as creative agency of record.
"We are incredibly proud of the 10-years of work we've done on the BMW website, which has delivered increased leads every year and dozens of creative awards," KBS global CEO Guy Hayward said in a statement. "We are excited for the next chapter as BMW's creative AOR, a role in which we will continue to innovate and set the bar in the category."
The changes suggest, however, that KBS is at risk of losing the creative account, which includes digital creative. People familiar with the matter have suggested that the creative account could go into review next spring or summer. But Ms. Hardy said that "we have not made a decision to put our above-the-line creative out to bid at this point."
"KBS is a fabulous partner," she added. "We have a wonderful relationship with them." She noted that the agency's workload also includes global projects via its service on a global brand council.
BMW spent $314.1 million on U.S. advertising in 2015, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.
In the third quarter of the year, MDC, which also owns shops including 72andSunny and Anomaly, reported a net loss of $33.5 million, compared to $8.6 million in the same period in 2015. The holding company has hired LionTree to review its financial and capital structure strategy and is in the process of reviewing options, including a potential sale.
The following article appeared on AdAge on Thursday, April 28th, 2016. Read the original here.
Former Havas, Code and Theory Leaders Buy Search Consultancy Roth Associates
Newly Named Roth Ryan Hayes Will Include Staffers With Recent Agency, Marketer Expertise
By Lindsay Stein
Matt Ryan, former New York co-chairman and global brands president of Havas Worldwide, and Chris Hayes, most recently global chief marketing officer of Code and Theory, have teamed up to take acquire search consultancy Roth Associates.
Mr. Ryan, now CEO of the newly named consultancy, Roth Ryan Hayes, said he and Mr. Hayes took a controlling interest in Roth and "basically control the entire company." Specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Dick Roth, who founded the eponymous shop in 1988, has taken on the title of chairman and will work closely with Mr. Ryan and Mr. Hayes. The Observatory International, which Roth Associates merged with a few years ago, will now operate as its own company, but could strategically align with Roth Ryan Hayes on certain projects.
Roth Ryan Hayes, which currently has six full-time staffers and a few consultants, is looking to differentiate itself from other consulting firms by staffing up with experienced executives who have recently worked on the agency or marketer sides of the business.
Mr. Ryan said two important trends are happening in the industry right now: marketers cleaning up their rosters to have fewer agencies, and brands trying to identify the right mix of shops they need to be successful.
"We want to focus on helping marketers build the most effective and efficient team for their brand or business, and whether that's one agency in a consolidation or a team of agencies, we've seen that the mandate is pretty clear for us to come in to help them find the best resource and solution," said Mr. Ryan.
In the near future, Roth Ryan Hayes is looking to expand its footprint beyond New York and Greenwich, Conn. with an office on the West Coast. The firm currently has one staffer based in Los Angeles. Mr. Ryan said the consultancy is also looking to announce several new hires in the next month or two, with the goal of bringing on people with digital and tech skills and specific category expertise, such as CPG.
Mr. Ryan and Mr. Hayes met earlier in their careers at Havas (then Euro RSCG). At the time, Mr. Ryan was global CMO- global brands president, and Mr. Hayes was marketing director for Europe.
Most recently, Mr. Ryan launched his own firm, Acadia Consulting Group, last May after serving as global CEO of WPP's United Network since the fall of 2013.
Mr. Hayes, who stepped down from his global CMO role at Code and Theory in January, also previously served as the marketing chief for Critical Mass, Huge and Y&R. He said one of the reasons he decided to go through with the deal was because he'd always been impressed with Mr. Roth's process, but felt there was an increased need to guide marketers around complicated topics like programmatic, mobile and e-commerce.
"We wish [Mr. Hayes] all the best in his new endeavor," said Code and Theory Co-Founder Dan Gardner.
Matt Ryan and Chris Hayes Join Roth, Firm Renamed Roth Ryan Hayes
Ryan and Hayes bring C-Suite and digital expertise to pioneering agency search consultancy.
Matt Ryan, the former President of Global Brands at Havas Worldwide and Global CEO of WPP’s United Network, and Chris Hayes, the former Global CMO at HUGE, Y&R, and Code and Theory, joined the agency search consultancy founded by Dick Roth as Roth Associates in 1988. The firm will now be known as Roth Ryan Hayes.
“In Matt Ryan and Chris Hayes, I’ve found two partners who understand the industry from all angles,” says Roth, who spearheaded agency searches for New York Life, Boeing, Infiniti, Honda, Bayer, and Citibank. “With their respective networks and areas of expertise, we’ll be able to respond to the surging demand for strong digital and tech partners.” Merging Chris Hayes and Matt Ryan’s expertise with Dick Roth’s best practices in agency search, selection, and compensation will position the firm for the future, and provide holistic counsel focused on the intersection of digital innovation and business strategy.
Together, Ryan and Hayes have driven business-minded marketing strategies for clients in the insurance, government, financial, health and wellness, consumer-packaged goods, automotive, transportation, and energy sectors. Ryan forged a strong reputation as an advisor to companies such as Jaguar, Charles Schwab, Volvo, and Merck as they seek to align brand strategy, creative, and operations globally. Hayes is an expert in digital initiatives and business strategies that support growth goals, having driven business transformations on behalf of TED, MassMutual, New York Life, SAP, Samsung, and TD Ameritrade. Their combined experience on the agency side will offer clients a practitioner's perspective on identifying the right agency for a client’s specific set of challenges.
Roth Ryan Hayes has offices in Greenwich, CT, New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA.