In early January 2014, DraftFCB was reported to be undergoing a rebranding overhaul that would see its return to the storied Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) name – and legacy – it held before its merger with marketing services group, Draft, in 2006, after which Howard Draft was named CEO of the agency network. When Carter Murray joined the network as CEO in September 2013, Draft was said to retain his executive chairman post, one he’d been occupying since Laurence Boschetto succeeded him as CEO in 2009. A few months into Murray’s appointment, Draft, the name, was less fortunate, getting officially dropped in March 2014.
Now, months after the news of the rebranding – and rumors around the DraftFCB merger being dissolved – got out, Sebastien Desclée, president, and Luis Silva Dias, chief creative officer at FCB, are making the rounds of the network’s regional hubs to ensure operational smooth sailing toward its new direction, which they expanded on in a recent chat with Communicate. “Over the past six to seven years, we had merged two very different companies [FCB and Draft] with strong expertise. [But] we felt it was time to re-clarify why we are in this industry. Leveraging the FCB name’s strong legacy, while capitalizing on what we are and what we want to be, was one way to do so,” says Desclée.
He adds that FCB is “not a top-down, but a bottom-up network that celebrates the locality and diversity of its global offices”; a statement that visually translates into the new and colorful logo, slashed at the bottom right to make room for the name and city of each of the network’s offices. “The logo is only complete when the local office’s name and, therefore, meaning, is added to it,” he adds.
On what the rebranding would entail, aside from the name change and aesthetic facelift, Desclée points out the network’s new direction, articulated with executives and top managers from its global offices, which includes structural changes that deviate from “the traditional regional model, where regional heads oversee the operations of regional offices. Instead, we’ve devised a two-fold model: the top 11 countries report directly to New York and an international team supports all clients and operations for the rest of the world; because we see that the dynamics in most of the smaller markets and countries, rather than of those located in the same region, are similar to each other. The dynamics in Peru could be more similar to Spain’s than the UK’s”.
With a renewed focus on creativity, FCB is leveraging the expertise and resources of its global offices to strengthen its local presence. “We’re truly a local network. So, today, we are building bridges to exchange learnings between our network offices,” says Desclée. That is not to say, however, that the agency is not looking at growing its roster of global clients, “but ones that would value the local amplification and connection of its brands in markets in which they operate”.
Desclée gives the example of Nivea’s recent campaign in Brazil, where parents were given bracelets through which they could track their kids’ whereabouts in public spaces via an app. “Nivea is a brand about caring and, through this campaign, it is branding the value of caring,” says Silva Dias. “Nowadays, the big mantra is storytelling. And to have an interesting story, you need context and newness. If you tap into local cultures, things get different points of view; for instance, there was an engineering university in South America, which, to promote itself, built a billboard that generates water from the atmosphere in the middle of the desert. As a European, I get it, but so would an American.”
When asked whether FCB will refocus its recruitment strategy to follow multinationals that have been hiring specialized talents across industries, Silva Dias says: “You’re as good as your focus is. I understand that it’s interesting to hire an engineer or a psychologist [at an agency], but this is not what we do. We do believe that, to change human behavior, you need to understand it, but from a specialized adman’s perspective. If you want to go beyond that, I think you’re intruding in other places. And frankly, I don’t know if clients want that. They need you to be very good at what you do. It is only ideas that set us apart as an industry.”