iProspect is getting a big boost under Dentsu’s new strategy to consolidate from 160 brands to six globally.
The agency unveiled its new positioning on Tuesday as an end-to-end global media shop that combines the best of performance marketing with brand building.
The new agency, which will have 8,000 employees in 93 markets, is the result of iProspect’s global merger with Vizeum in November, in which Dentsu sunsetted the Vizeum brand globally.
“When we talk about performance marketing and brand building, it’s one ecosystem,” said Peter Huijboom, global CEO for media and global clients at Dentsu International. “Increasingly, we have been bringing these teams together on behalf of our clients.”
Despite retaining the iProspect brand, the new agency will bring together Vizeum and iProspect “complimentary” offerings across brand and performance. The firm will be “fully integrated” for clients, and share physical office space when it’s safe to return.
“Brand building, media strategy, planning, storytelling and client strategy innovation is the heritage of Vizeum,” Huijboom said. “For iProspect, it’s the digital expertise, audience knowledge and performance mindset and capability.”
“We’ve always seen in the market that the partnership between Vizeum and iProspect was very strong,” he added.
As the two agencies come together globally, the combined entity will roll out differently across markets. In Europe, for example, where Vizeum has historically been strongest, the brand may still exist for certain clients and to manage conflicts. The talent mix will vary by region based on the strength of either iProspect or Vizeum in that market.
“Over time, you will see a new culture arising for the agency, but we’re not forcing anything there,” Huijboom said.
As for talent, bringing the two agencies together is a “huge opportunity” to infuse new skill sets as the worlds of brand and performance collide.
“Having been part of this development, we know that the new iProspect proposition, one that is digital-first end-to-end that offers performance-driven brand building at a global scale, is one that will accelerate growth for our clients in the Asia-Pacific region,” added Prerna Mehrotra, CEO of Media for Dentsu APAC and MD of Dentsu Singapore’s Media Group.
Dentsu’s new media look
The new iProspect plays into Dentsu’s vision to create a more complete, client-centric global media offering with three brands — iProspect, Carat and Dentsu X — supported by specialty practice areas in search, social, ecommerce, programmatic, data and tech and other areas.
“We had quite a bit of duplication with [specialty skill sets] handled previously within each brand silo,” Huijboom said. “Each brand has its own positioning and client portfolio, but they are increasingly leaning on these skilled shared services.”
Dentsu will merge 60 media agency brands into three with different go-to-market offerings, as the group seeks more integrated global client relationships. While iProspect is about the blend of brand and performance marketing, Carat focuses on human intelligence, and Dentsu X on experience and creative. In the U.S., Dentsu X will combine with 360i, which has a similar positioning but a stronger brand in the region.
“As we combine brands, this is becoming more important,” Huijboom said. “We are making a careful selection for the best go-to-market brand for the opportunity.”
The new media structure is part of Dentsu International CEO Wendy Clark’s plan to simplify Dentsu into six global brands with three core practice areas — creative, media and customer experience management (CXM) — a process that will result in 6,000 job cuts across the network.
Huijboom declined to share how many jobs were affected by the iProspect and Vizeum merger specifically, but highlighted Clark’s recent comments that 25% of job cuts across the board will impact Dentsu’s top 1,000 executives, solving mostly for duplication as agencies consolidate.
The restructure comes as Dentsu International’s revenues declined 13.2% in Q4 2020, marking the worst performance among the holding companies in the quarter and leading to an impairment charge for Dentsu of 140.3 billion Yen.
Media, which makes up almost half of Dentsu International’s revenues, declined 15.2% in Q4, leading Clark to put emphasis on CXM which, led by Merkle, will make up half of Dentsu’s revenues by 2025.
So what does that mean for the media agencies?
“We are not shrinking media,” Huijbloom said. “CXM is growing faster than media, so over time, the business will shift as a reflection of our industry. But media will continue to grow.”
Media and CXM will partner more closely as this shift takes place, for example leaning on Merkle’s identity capabilities for media buying. These partnerships are possible because Dentsu operates on a single P&L, and will become more common as it pitches for more integrated accounts.
“We want our clients to perceive this as one business,” Huijboom said. “Previously we were doing this ad hoc for an opportunity. Now it’s much more at the foundation.”
He added: “Increasingly, you will see us going into larger client relationships as Dentsu.”