Everything Changes – Jason Dormieux

Wavemaker’s global chief transformation officer Jason Dormieux tells Austyn Allison the right attitude and insights are as essential as the right media products and services

JASON DORMIEUX is Wavemaker’s global chief transformation officer

Jason Dormieux was adamant he be named chief transformation officer, not technology or product officer. The difference, he says, is that his job is not simply about getting the right tools in place at Wavemaker, but also getting the media agency’s teams around the world invested in using those tools to make a difference for their clients.

The transformation is a two-way  street. Firstly, Dormieux has to get  buy-in from the agency staff who will be using the tools and innovations he introduces. Without that they will be reluctant to use them, and without their enthusiasm for the means they have at their disposal, clients won’t be as encouraged to make the most of Wavemaker’s investments either.

But the CTO’s job is also about listening to his teams to see what their desires and concerns are.

He is based in London, but was recently in Dubai. “I’ve spent some time here talking to the CEOs from across the MENA region,” he tells Campaign. “But I had the opportunity to speak to and present to pretty much the entire MENA office.”

He describes the regional Wavemaker teams as “not exactly backwards in coming forward”. The concerns that MENA staff raised included the pace of change when it comes to the addressability of media. That is a conversation Dormieux has been having in other markets as well. He says, though, that in the Middle East “the reach of digital is now so significant, especially among certain target audience groups,” that addressability concerns about linear TV may be less of an issue. His prediction is that it will be a decade before the region’s broadcasters reach that stage on ‘traditional’ television.

In some respects there is less of the ‘trans’ and more of the ‘formation’ in Dormieux’s job. Although his employer was forged from an alloy of Group M media agencies MEC and Maxus, both companies with a strong reputation and legacy, the Wavemaker brand itself is less than a year and a half old. Dormieux says: “We were given a very, very privileged opportunity 13 months ago to actually answer the question: If you are creating an agency that can partner clients of the future, what will it look like?”

The answer to that question embraces WPP CEO Mark Read’s policy of “radical evolution”, says Dormieux. “We need to make sure that we keep hold of the things that we need to keep hold of, and don’t just pursue the new for the sake of newness,” he says. “But what we are also saying is that where we do need to change, we need to accelerate the pace of change.”

Ad tech is essential to the addressability of media, in that it allows better targeting by using data to build up personalised models of what consumers like and are receptive to, and what messaging and channels will best influence their spending behaviour.

But putting the infrastructure in place (think electronic billboards that can change their display by daypart, or television technology that can serve different ads to neighbouring households) is a question of economics for the media owners themselves. Different media will evolve at different speeds in different geographies.

To get an idea of what the future might hold, says Dormieux, the MENA region should be looking both west and east. To the west, markets such as the United States and the UK are pioneering addressable TV and smart radio. Meanwhile, to the east looms China’s mobile-app economy.

In MENA, both mobile phone usage and social media are big, says Dormieux. Media evolution towards addressability is likely to be through those channels.

Direct-marketing companies are leading the way towards addressability. Once considered the poor cousins of above-the-line agencies, the skills they have built up through techniques such as direct mailers and point-of-purchase targeted messaging are now key to personalisation. This is why merged agencies such as Wunderman Thompson, which was formed from WPP’s Wunderman and J. Walter Thompson in November have seen the direct shop take the lead title, relegating the once-dominant branding agency into second place on the new company’s masthead.

And that ad technology that Dormieux is integrating into Wavemaker allows online and offline media to become better integrated. In MENA, online is likely to continue to lead the way, led by high mobile and social penetration.

Marketers and media need to watch Generation Z to see where media trends are likely to go in the next 10 years or so. That can help them plan for future investments. “What’s interesting is:
take your average 16 year old now; In 10 years’ time, how will they be consuming media? Will they suddenly stop accessing news content through Snapchat?” asks Dormieux.

If media, marketers and agencies  read those signs right then they will  be able to get more of the right messages to the right people through the right media at the right stage in the purchase journey. That’s what addressable media is all about, and it is Jason Dormieux’s job to make sure Wavemaker is all about the same.