My Guess is Joseph George Could End Up in the Movies

Brand Equity got Alex Leikikh, Global CEO, MullenLowe Group to do an exclusive Quick-5 on the outgoing Group Chairman and CEO, MullenLowe Lintas Group India, Joseph George (Joe) and what his likely future plans. Excerpts:

This news from one of the most stable Indian ad-agency operations has taken pretty much everyone by surprise and shock. What was your first reaction when you got to know of his exit?

When Joe first spoke to me last year about his desire to quit this role and pursue his big dream, it did take me by surprise. A few weeks and several conversations later, we agreed that this was important for him. A man who’s given over a quarter-century to build our company, deserves to choose when it’s time to move on.
In true Joe-style, he’s planned his exit meticulously and we’ve spent the last eight months putting that transition plan in place. I can see why it seems shocking to the outside world, but having lived with it for some time, we’ve internalized it.

While the succession planning has been accomplished at the 3 agency brands under the group in India, the replacement for Joe’s role has not been announced yet?

Moving to the three agency structure is the succession plan for India. Each agency has its leadership, teams and client-portfolios firmly in place. Lowe Lintas led by Chairman and CCO Arun Iyer and CEO Raj Gupta, Mullen Lintas led by chairman and CCO Amer Jaleel and CEO Virat Tandon, and PointNine Lintas led by Vikas Mehta. This team will report directly to me. With regards to Joe’s regional responsibilities – we will be announcing Joe’s successor leading Southeast Asia in the next few weeks.

What could be the impact of his exit on the group’s brand in India?

I am very confident in the power of the MullenLowe Lintas Group brand in India – a brand that has such a strong identity, culture and set of values. The focus now, is to add more dimensions to the Group brand and the hyperbundled offering. We have three distinct agency brands – Lowe Lintas, Mullen Lintas and PointNine Lintas – each with a unique set of strengths. Together, they give us a lineup of offerings that can rival even holding companies in India. Joe’s transition marks the starting point of a new chapter in MullenLowe Lintas Group’s evolution in this market.

In your view what has been the single most important contribution made by Joseph George for MullenLowe Lintas Group?

Bringing 26 years down to ‘one’ contribution is a hard one. He’s made a deep impact on the organisation in every sense of the word. In my view, the most valuable of all, has been his role as architect of today’s MullenLowe Lintas Group with regards to growing the next generation of talent in the agency. Joe is a fantastic leader, and one of his greatest strengths has been his ability to develop world class business and creative leaders.

What has been your most quirky/funny memory of working with Joe in the last year and a half?

Not many people know this but Joe is a very talented dancer and singer – and I’ve witnessed this first hand! My guess is he ends up in the movies as a next career.

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Love Island: What Brands Can Learn

Just as audiences have flocked to the show – which peaked last night with 2.9 million viewers, beating BBC One’s 2 million at the same time – brands have been quick to get in on the action.

Superdrug, the main sponsor for the second year running, is the one brand that has perhaps benefitted the most. “It suits the tone of the show, they have the right products and it feels like they belong in the environment,” Mat Goff, joint chief executive at Adam & Eve/DDB, explains.

“Their sponsorship bumpers fit the mood and the tone of that show, so they feel like a decent start point every time we return to the action.”

The brand’s deal to push its advertising further than traditional TV spots with product placement – its sun lotion was often left on display in the show – is also a useful way to communicate to a younger audience, Abi Morrish, head of digital engagement at MEC, says.

There has also been a huge opportunity for brands not officially involved with the show. Social media has been awash with posts about Love Island, and the contestants dumped from the show have been quick to monetise their following.

“When shows like Love Island, the Oscars or the Olympics form part of the cultural zeitgeist for audiences, the opportunity for brands is to gain relevance and integrate their messages into the cultural agenda,” Anthony Svirskis, chief executive of Tribe, says. “It’s cliché to say ‘join the conversation’ but it is true of social channels.”

For many small brands social media is a low cost and “effective way of getting in front of lots of people quickly”, Goff explains. The brands featured on the accounts of some of the former contestants include online fashion retailers and

However, these brands need to be fast. “There’s a quick window of opportunity where [the contestants evicted from the show] are gathering lots of followers and people are really interested in what they are doing, but I don’t think any of those individuals are long-term strategies or will become celebrities in their own right,” Goff says.

“Their influence might burn quickly, but there’s a nice conveyor belt of those shows.”

But – even if the partnerships are fleeting – brands should still make sure reality stars are the right fit for them. “As always, the pairing needs to feel authentic, and this is going to limit the pool of brands that should be looking for this kind of relationship,” Jim Coleman, UK chief executive at We Are Social, says.

“They shouldn’t just look to ride on the show’s success just for the sake of it – an inauthentic influencer partnership that looks forced can be ineffective, or worse, detrimental to a brand’s reputation.”

Mike Clear, head of Mother Studios, explains that brands should stay true to the feel of a show like Love Island. “They shouldn’t fight the reason the show gains popularity – keep the superficial feel and you can’t go too far wrong. It is not there to cure the world’s ills, it is simply created to entertain.”

If brands fail to follow this advice, “people will just see straight through it and it will fall by the wayside, or worse a la Pepsi and Kendall Jenner”, warns Charlie Powell, senior business development manager at talent agency Talent Republic.

Despite the show being over, Laura Moorcraft, managing partner for ITV at Goodstuff, thinks there’s still an opportunity for Superdrug. She says: “Superdrug’s established brand association could seamlessly extend into style and beauty social videos, featuring products and techniques favoured by the show’s stars. Surely Kem’s hair stylist background and top-knot prowess could form a Superdrug video series in its own right.”

Looking ahead to the next series, Steve Parker, managing director at AllTogetherNow, explains that brands should think ahead about the different ways that they can get involved. He says: “Being able to make the most of a show like Love Island requires either good forward planning to find a way to get into the show before it starts, like providing the outfits contestants wear, or the ability to be very reactive, and brand relevant, like Primark have been with their Love Island slogan t-shirts.”

Lessons from Love Island’s social media strategy

By Kayley Almond, social strategist at MullenLowe Profero

1. Add value through intimacy

The show’s Instagram account regularly posts snackable behind-the-scenes content from the contestants themselves. The fan’s relationship with the show suddenly feels a lot more intimate when they’re seeing Snapchats and selfies from the contestants in the run-up to broadcast.

2. Create a members-only club

The unique lexicon that follows the show around, already available on t-shirts thanks to merchandising deals with Primark, acts as a membership card. It urges people to double tap whenever they see something that raises a smirk, pulling them back to their sofa every evening.

3. Keep up the pace

The show moves at such a pace that missing one of the hour-long nightly episodes leaves the viewer struggling to catch up. But what the show’s social content adds is making sure the sense that people are missing out is even more extreme since their feed is suddenly populated with a barrage of clips and reactions.

4. Shareability is time specific

Early first-looks teasing the evening’s content posted each afternoon are a difficult-to-pass-up opportunity to share content with friends as people dissect what might be happening later. As with the behind-the-scenes footage these also serve as the daily reminder that people need to be sat in front of the TV (or mobile, since 30% of live viewership happens through the ITV Hub app) at 9pm sharp.

5. Make the unmissable truly unmissable

The best parts of Love Island are truly impossible to miss thanks to the clips and GIFs which appear almost instantaneously with their broadcast, both from the official channels and the grainy videos of TV screens which viewers upload unprompted.

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Consumers Urge Brands to Push the Boundaries of Gender Stereotyping

According to research from Universal McCann, 65% of women and 59% of men like it when brands use traditional media to challenge stereotypes.

Speaking at a Women In Ads event in London last week, Michael Brown, insight director at UM, urged brands to throw out the template when it comes to women in advertising. He explained: ‘Humans are complex. So, for communications to be truly relatable, we need to move away from tired pen portraits that can be written before we embark on a project.”

Ditch the stereotypes

In line with this, the research suggests that brands need to ditch gender stereotyping. As Brown explains: “People look to brands to behave as moral guardians – you are under far more scrutiny than other platforms. Your role is to help them break free from the shackles of identity norms.”

Self identity in the UK is a pressured space

“I have felt pressure from adverts to be a certain way”
49% of women agree

“Adverts have previously made me feel like I’m not good enough”
44% of women agree

Speaking at a panel discussion at the event, Marina Haydn, executive vice president, marketing of The Economist, argued that diversity and inclusion need to become central to business. She said: “There are a lot of subtle nuances that are lost because women aren’t playing a bigger role in the creative process.”

According to Haydn, for many brands conservatism is the easier route to take and it, therefore, takes “a lot of bravery to step outside these gender stereotypes”.

Addressing the action gap

Addressing the action gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to gender stereotyping, Lindsey Clay, chief executive of Thinkbox, warned the industry being stuck in the past would lead to consumer criticism. “There is a real urgent need and opportunity to take this seriously.”

Clay said businesses need to put in actual physical initiatives in place: “It’s ridiculous [that only 12% of creative directors are women]. You have to put quotas in place.” She pointed to the success of initiatives such as Free the Bid, saying that if clients demand more women work on briefs change will follow.

Many people are defining as feminist

46% of women self-define as feminist
22% of men self-define as feminist

Tom Knox, chair at MullenLowe London, added that the lack of diversity in creative agencies is clearly a big problem. “We will never improve the diversity of the output unless we challenge the diversity of the creative teams,” he said.

According to The Economist‘s Haydn, the conversation surrounding women and business is in danger of perpetuating a narrative in which everything is an enormous struggle. She believes instead we should move towards talking about when gender parity is reached and when gender neutrality in advertising is the norm. She added: “This can only happen when there is an agreement between men and women and we will move positively towards [change].”

Successful stereotypes

Ironically the ASA’s move to introduce new guidelines on gender stereotyping in advertising is a reflection of just how successful these stereotypes are. Advertising has leant so heavily on perpetuating stereotypes, the move away from them may not always be linear or simple. As Mullen Lowe’s Knox pointed out, Unilever’s research shows that when consumers see a man in a cleaning commercial the message that they see is that the product is easy to use.

Sarah Wood, co-founder and chief executive of Unruly, believes one of the key ways in which brands can move beyond blunt stereotyping is greater use of personalisation. She explained: “There is a shift to personalisation afoot and it is about treating employees as individuals and communicating to people as individuals”.

Pointing to the increased uptake of creative programmatic, Wood believes that the industry has the opportunity to move beyond producing mass-produced stereotypes and reach people as individuals.

Changing the conversation

The panel also addressed the thorny issue of gendered language with Clay sharing the example of a meeting she attended in which male executives talked about being “ballls deep”. While Knox shared experiences of being in meetings featuring an over-reliance on aggressive hunting analogies. “When that happens, call it out,” he added.

Clay pointed to the fact that whenever childcare issues are discussed it is always discussed as a challenge to women when childcare is an equal challenge for parents.

Sophia Durrani, managing partner strategy at UM London, added that equal paternity rights will help to change existing agency structures. “This is not just about women. It is something that will benefit all of us,” she added.

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MullenLowe Philippines Wins Isuzu LCV Account

MANILA – After concluding its relationship with its previous agency, Isuzu Philippines has awarded creative duties on their LCV (Light Commercial Vehicle) business to MullenLowe.
Isuzu recently celebrated its 20th year in the Philippines. While it has been the number one truck for the past 16 years, its recent successes in the LCV category have made the automotive industry take notice. MullenLowe will take over duties for the Isuzu Crosswind, Mu-X, and D-Max (2016’s Truck of the Year).
“We’re honored – and thrilled – to be chosen as Isuzu’s new responsible partner,” says Leigh Reyes, President and CCO of MullenLowe. “We look forward to being part of Isuzu’s continuing success story.”
“To many, Isuzu stands for reliability, hard work, dependability, and going beyond. We also look for those qualities in those we choose to partner with,” said Joseph Bautista, Division Head for Marketing. “We appreciate MullenLowe’s credentials, creative ideas, and fresh working environment. We hope it will be a productive partnership.”
In photo are Front Row (Left to Right):
Mehrdad Jamshidi (MullenLowe Finance Controller); April Marie Pagcaliwagan (Isuzu Philippines); Maylyn Gimutao (Isuzu Philippines Advertising Section Supervisor); Robert Carlos (Advertising Section Head); Joseph Bautista (Isuzu Philippines Marketing Division Head); Leigh Reyes (MullenLowe President and Chief Creative Officer); Michael Trillana (MullenLowe VP & Chief Marketing Officer); Aimee Sarmiento (MullenLowe Business Unit Director)
Second Row (Left to Right):
Mila Sy (MullenLowe CFO); Shiela Tiongco (MullenLowe Creative Technology Unit Head); Joel Banzil (MullenLowe Creative Director); KC Bathan (MullenLowe Senior Copywriter ); Viboy Palillo (MullenLowe Strategic Planning Head); Regine Mercado (MullenLowe Account Director)
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Christian Juhl: one of 4A’s 100 people who make advertising great

To celebrate its 100th year, the 4A’s created a list of 100 people who make advertising great. We’d like to congratulate three GroupM leaders for making this list: Irwin Gotlieb, global chairman at GroupM; Rob Norman, chief digital officer, GroupM Worldwide and chairman of GroupM North America; and John Montgomery, GroupM’s EVP of brand safety. We’re also proud to share that our global CEO Christian Juhl was included in this illustrious group. 

We’re even tempted to gloat about the fact that we have Christian as our CEO, but such bombast is unbecoming. Let’s say the points below are only facts:

– Our billings have increased every year since Christian joined three years ago.

– He orchestrated our sale to WPP in late 2015.

– Under his direction, we’re expanding across the world and into offline media to become a full-service agency.

-And more clients, like NBCU and Target, are consolidating their media with us, doubling our billings to almost 3 billion.

OK, maybe those facts sound a little bit like we’re gloating — especially the one about our billings — but they’re also hard to argue with. So forgive us this for this final bit of bragging: there’s no denying that as our CEO, Christian is making advertising great every day.

Head to the 4A’s site for the full list.

How Technology will Help Communicators Usher in Limitless Consumerism

By Daphne Hoytt, SVP, MSL Atlanta, NA Consumer Practice Director In today’s modern world, it goes without that saying that exclusivity is what moves the needle in consumer brand communication. Consumers want to feel that a certain brand will provide a unique benefit or experience that another company cannot, or that fellow consumers will not […]

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What Would Your Answer Be?

In several RFP questionnaires recently, we’ve been asked a similar question: “Over the past three years, describe the accomplishments of which the agency is most proud.” Since the answer is topical, I thought I’d share it:

While it’s a little odd for an agency to cite the loss of a client as an accomplishment, bear with us. The loss itself wasn’t an accomplishment – as a matter of fact, it’s a loss we feel acutely every single day, especially given how long the relationship endured and what we did together to make advertising history. But despite more than two decades of setting milestones in the quick-service restaurant business, our 22-year relationship with our client Chick-fil-A ended in October.

The accomplishment isn’t in our loss but in our recovery. In less than a month, we went to work for three new clients in the food-service retail category: Boston Market, Firehouse Subs, and TGI Fridays.

In June 2015, Dr Pepper Snapple Group hired us as their digital agency of record for all nine of their brands. While we have digital advertising responsibility for a number of our clients, this was the first time we were engaged exclusively for our digital expertise. Up against two digital-only agencies, we demonstrated our ability to provide them with strong, effective digital ideas that would move their brands forward with a younger generation. Besting those two internationally recognized digital shops was a bit of a milestone moment for us.

And in April of this year, Stan was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. While this sounds like an individual achievement, Stan would argue that point. As a matter of fact, in his acceptance speech, he said, “The largest part of the credit goes to the 741 people I love coming to work with every day.” It’s one of the agency’s proudest accomplishments and now a very big part of our history.

I’m not sure we’ll ever top the latter accomplishment, and I hope there’s no need to repeat the first one, but agencies don’t often step back and reflect on what they’ve achieved and the events that shape them as they go through their daily business. So I’m grateful for RFP questions that force us to stop, for just a few minutes, and really think about what we’re most proud of. It turns out, it’s time well spent.

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Google Data Studio: Using Google Sheets as a Data Source

Data Studio lets us visualize data from many sources. At Distilled, we’ve been using Google Sheets to do most of our reporting for years. It works well—but transitioning to Data Studio is so satisfying. It’s easier to manage permissions. And it’s also easier to get Google Analytics data into Data Studio than Sheets.

Here’s the thing: it’s still downright fun to use Sheets as a data source in Data Studio. You can see your data, interact with it, and then chart it. Sheets gives you the power of Data Studio without the bother of managing databases. Anyone can do it.

This post explains how to use Google Sheets as a data source in Data Studio. I recommend opening these documents as you follow along:

SEE the final report


SEE the example sheet

This post uses public datasets on the gender wage gap in the US. The Economic Policy Institute provides these datasets. Their analysis of the wage gap is thorough and insightful—worth queueing up!

Organize the Google Sheet

The key to using Google Sheets with Data Studio is formatting. A Sheet is worth a thousand words—the example Sheet will show you what we want:


Each dimension and metric in its own column.

Put your data in one table. Bonus points for making sure that table starts in cell A1—right in the upper-left. Each of your examples should be one row. And each dimension (characteristic) and metric (measurement) should have its own column.

In this case, each of our examples is a year. “Date” will be our only dimension. For each year, we’re including many measurements. These are the metrics—“Men Median”, “Men Average”, “Women Median”, “Women Average”. This is a reasonable way to record the data if we want to plot these metrics over time.

These aren’t hard and fast rules. That said, if you treat them as if they are, your life with Data Studio will be easier! Here’s a checklist to consider when you’re recording your data:

  • Each dimension and metric should be in its own column.

  • Each example should be its own row.

  • [Optional] Data should start in cell A1.

  • [Optional] There shouldn’t be extraneous data in the same worksheet. Create new worksheets to store notes, citations, or other tables.

Now you’ve got a well-structured sheet. To follow along with this tutorial, you can create a copy of the Google sheet linked above.

Create a data source

See the documentation for the Google Sheets connector.

Let’s open up Data Studio. Unlike Sheets, Data Studio has two types of “documents”. It works with reports, and also with data sources. The distinction between the two is important. Data sources connect to your datasets, and they also manage permissions for your data.

To create a data source that connects to Google Sheets, start by navigating to “Data Sources”:

…and click the familiar “make new thing circle button”:

Clicking that button gets you an explorer interface. It lists a bunch of connectors. The connector you want to use is the Google Sheets connector. With that selected, find both your Sheet and the worksheet that holds your data:

Selecting the “Hourly Wages” worksheet.

Once you’ve selected the worksheet, there are still some decisions to make. You have three options:

  1. Use the first row as headers. Selected by default. Does what it says on the tin.

  2. Include hidden and filtered cells. Selected by default. If you want to keep data out of Data Studio by hiding its columns in Google Sheets, deselect this.

  3. An optional range of cells containing your data. Data Studio looks at the entire worksheet by default. If your table lies in a certain range, specify that here.

Because we’ve organized our spreadsheet well, we can use the defaults. That’s important to note. A well-organized sheet means never having to fuss with these options. You’ll select the worksheet you need without sweating the details.

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We can ignore these options since our sheet is well-formatted. Click “Connect” to give Data Studio access to the Sheet:

Now Data Studio can access your Google Sheet. It knows where to look for your data, and whether you’ve labeled it. The next step is to help Data Studio understand what kind of data you’ve given it.

Describe your data

See the documentation for dimensions and metrics.

When you connect Data Studio to Google Sheets, it sees a bunch of data. It doesn’t know what that data represents. The most it will do is decide whether a column contains numbers or text. Since our example sheet consists only of numbers, this is what we see after connecting:


Data Studio is smart about charting data it understands. It uses that understanding to automatically format charts for us. We need to fill Data Studio in on two points:

  • What type of information each field contains.
    There are a bunch of different data types. In this case, we have three types: Date, Currency, and Percents.

  • How to aggregate each field.
    In our sheet, we’ve recorded data by year. We know that in the 2016 row, for instance, the median hourly wage for men is $19.33. To look at the median hourly wage of men across 2015 and 2016? We’d want to average the median salaries for both years, not add them together! (Doing that with this dataset would be invalid because the samples are different. In other datasets, you will want to be able to aggregate.)

Apply these settings to teach Data Studio what it’s working with:

Check out this example data source as you work to get a feel for what it should look like:


Now we have a data source, and Data Studio understands our data. We could jump straight to visualizing our data at this point. That said, Data Studio offers another feature worth exploring: calculated fields. If you want to jump to visualizing, scroll down to “Visualize your data”. Otherwise, read on.

Optional: create calculated fields

See the documentation for calculated fields.

Data Studio allows you to add custom fields to a sheet. Instead of adding all sorts of columns and formulas to your sheet, you can add them to your data source. That’s great because you can add calculated fields on the fly, without modifying your source data. Your new fields will be accessible in any reports that use this data source.

Clicking the blue + next to the “Field” column will open up a space for you to define a new field:

Defining a calculated field takes three steps:

  1. Enter a name for the field. This is the name that you’ll select when you include the field in your chart.

  2. Enter a formula. This defines the values of the calculated field. Data Studio recognizes the names of existing fields and will auto-complete. The documentation includes a complete list of functions.

  3. Click Create Field.

Here’s what we’ll see after adding the calculated field:

Note that we don’t have the same options we did when we first connected to the Sheet. The aggregation settings are set to “Auto”. Data Studio infers an appropriate aggregation setting based on what it’s calculating.

And—that quickly—we have a new field that we can visualize!

Visualize your data

When you’ve created your data source, hit “Create Report”. This creates an empty report with your Google Sheets data source connected to it:

Charts in this report will use your new data source by default. Try adding a time-series chart to the report. You’ll see it instantly populate with relevant data!

That’s all there is to it. You’ve got a data source and report to work with. The rest is up to you!

See the final product

The first chart in the example report uses this data source. You’ll be able to replicate it by adding a time series to your own report. I’ve defined the other charts with their own data sources—with exactly the same process!


Thanks for reading. I’ll respond to questions and feedback in the comments below!

MullenLowe Peru Rebrands to 511 and Unveils New Innovation and Content Lab

MullenLowe Group announced today the rebranding of MullenLowe Peru to MullenLowe 511 to symbolize the agency’s evolution and the launch of its new Innovation and Content Lab.

MullenLowe 511 will continue to be led by CEO César Benavides and VP, Operations, Paco Torrico. Since the agency’s founding three years ago, it has experienced impressive growth, and now numbers 100 staff and has added key brands such as ABInBev with Guaraná, Nike, Suzuki and Unilever, amongst others.

On the launch of the new Innovation and Content Lab, MullenLowe 511 VP, Operations Torrico comments, “The Lab will go beyond our clients’ everyday needs to provide an opportunity for a deep dive into the brand ecosystem, while identifying the disruptive and relevant forms of communication that strengthen the relationship between the company and its consumers. Based on a new process of research and idea development, this dedicated team will find and create new experiences within digital and social, experiential, entertainment content generation (music, gaming, sports), innovative point-of-sale, new media, and co-branding partnership opportunities.”

The lab will be headed by Rodrigo Melgar, who was recently with Havas Tribu Costa Rica and has also been a creative director in several agencies in Lima. He will work closely with Leandro Raggio, the agency’s creative director, and with the heads of client service, planning and digital.

“We thought this new name would reflect our origin as well as our strong identity and unique personality,” added MullenLowe 511 CEO, Benavides. “It’s an exciting and energizing time for our us as we strengthen our offering and ensure that the work we create exceeds campaign goals and drives an unfair share of attention for our clients’ brands.”

The rebranding and the creation of the Innovation and Content Lab reflects and reinforces the beginning of a new phase. The name MullenLowe 511 comes with special significance, as it represents both the area code for Peru (51) and Lima (1).

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