By Leonardo Ruiz

UM Global CEO highlights that platforms are developing new social behaviors and brands will be a part of this. He also says that mobile video and mobile e-commerce represent a key opportunity for LatAm.

Daryl Lee is the global CEO of Universal McCann (UM), a global media agency focused on creativity and curiosity. During his visit to Chile, Daryl spoke to PULSO about the new trends in adland, and how brands need to learn about storytelling to remain top-of mind with the audience.

How do you evaluate the ad market with so many changes in technology?

There’s a big change, not only in terms of technology, but also in terms of platforms. In the past we used to have mass media, but now we also have these communications platforms, and although the things we can do now with content and brands are much broader in scope, plus we also have an attention problem.

What exactly is the problem?

Because you have a plethora of possibilities, the effort and focus required from brands to lure your attention is bigger. At UM we see media as moments. As there are unlimited choices across these platforms, where you can build your own content or avoid brands, the way to bring people closer to brands is by creating these moments or stories at a particular moment and place, on a platform where a person creates something which makes it memorable. This technological revolution has come to stay and we must accept it. Human beings still need some reasons to focus on a brand, rather than a football story or the Kardashians. We shouldn’t just deliver messages through the media, but create real moments.

What moments have reflected this?

We’ve developed great moments. For example, for Clean & Clear we could advertise, but teenagers won’t pay any attention to the ads or won’t be necessarily watching TV. Therefore, we developed video content which was recorded by music video directors and focused on a style which teenagers feel engaged with. The story showed adolescents talking about their real identity, about who they really are, whether they’re singers or care about fashion or science. Now we have approximately 100 videos in this series. That’s how we create moments in which a person sees another person sharing his or her story and can contribute with their own stories. We’ve also done another thing for BMW in the States. We developed a brand documentary for the Olympics and it was aired on TV. Moments can be small or big, but what really matters is to tell an interesting story.

Where are we heading? Do you think about what’s coming next or you just focus on the present moment?

Coca-Cola has a rule we follow: focus 70% on what’s happening today, 20% on what’s coming next and 10% on what is yet unthinkable. That’s how budgets are allocated, and the focus is on the 20% and the 10% because new things are being created. This is helping clients to think that they have to do what they have to do, but without ignoring the future because otherwise they will lag behind. At IPG’s Media Lab, we try out what we want to launch today – even if it’s not commercial yet – with clients like J&J, Chrysler or Hershey’s. For example, we launched Facebook Messenger as an open platform for bots and we have tried some Artificial Intelligence bots not only for client service conversations, but also brand conversations. For example, for Sony Pictures Goosebumps we made people interact with their favorite bot monster. Nobody can claim there’s a roadmap for the future. Five years ago nobody talked about Snapchat, and ten years ago nobody was talking about Facebook. What I think will remain unchanged is that we’ll have platforms rather than media. They deal with specific content for each medium, but platforms can create new social behaviors, and all the content and brands will be part of this.

We have digital executive directors and innovation programs where each client can oversee next-generation advancements. Compared to other agencies, we are also investing more time in understanding human motivations about life. For example, millennials spend more time watching online content than any other group throughout human history, and also consume television at a very strong level. But they also consume Netflix and other social platforms like Facebook Video and You Tube. In other words, they consume more content than any other generation in human history. The thing is that platforms are offering more options to people.

So, are you concerned about what’s going on with media?

No, I’m not. In fact, people are consuming more content, but the question is whether brands can develop the right sort of content, without depending on publishers to generate content. The big trend is to create branded content.

What kind of content is it?

It’s what Chipotle or Red Bull do by developing movies and a community based on that content. For example, we’ve had some partnerships with BuzzFeed or VICE and also with some other new players across the media to create specific content for specific audiences.

And what do you think about geographical differences? Is it really different to work with LatAm?

LatAm is experiencing two things at the same time. On the one hand, television remains very strong. In Europe, for example, the change towards digital has been really dramatic, and the US lies somewhere in the middle: television is still very strong in the market, but there’s also a growing and dynamic mobile market, and they are clearly taking a leap forward. So, we can observe an interesting mix of mobile market, mobile video and mobile e-commerce, which represents a big opportunity for LatAm while respecting the role played by television.