‘Digital is like high school sex’: WPP AUNZ’s Jens Monsees on the motivations behind his transformation plan

“I often say, digital is like high school sex. Everybody talks about it, few are doing it and nobody does it right,” said WPP AUNZ CEO Jens Monsees.

“There is more than talk, you have to understand it. So where is your data in a big bank, in a big automotive company, where is this data sitting? How do I make it accessible and make sense of it in real time? How many of our clients at the moment have a decent data strategy and have the IT infrastructure underneath it to harvest and make sense out of the data?”

Speaking at Mumbrella360: Reconnected, Monsees discussed the digital motivation behind his transformation plan for WPP AUNZ. Monsees said clients’ obsession with data-informed marketing can only be addressed by starting at the very core of data banks and organisation.

Monsees spoke at Mumbrella360: Reconnected

“And then you have your users and your shopper profiles,” he continued. “And then you come out with the right message, at the relevant channel, at the right time, at the right place… and this content needs to be integrated as well.

“And that is why a lot of our current clients, advertisers, are struggling because it’s still sitting in different buckets… and as long as we don’t bring these pieces together for our clients we don’t get the most out of our advertising.”

Monsees’ strategy for WPP AUNZ involves “[powering] up our creative capability and traditional skill-set with technology to capture growing areas of e-commerce, technology and experience”. In part, this will be executed by the simplification of the business and consolidation of agency brands. As Monsees said on stage at the summit, WPP AUNZ has 140 legal entities and 64 agency brands.

“When they built WPP far before my time, they did right. They acquired great brands, great leaders, great capabilities, but they were stacked in silos next to each other,” Monsees said of the business.

“And in a connected world, you cannot be in silos and disconnected. And that was very obvious for all my leaders.

“They said collaboration was a principle. But collaboration then needs to be not a fluffy thing, it needs to be embedded in the body.”

WPP AUNZ’s prominent mergers over the last few years have attracted criticism from the market and WPP’s founder Sir Martin Sorrell, for the loss of legacy agency brands, such as Y&R and JWT. But Monsees said merger decisions should be “customer first” not “brand first”.

“WPP is not a corporate holding. For me, it’s a platform where our brands can flourish. And then, it was probably a little bit the mindset of brands first, and actually it’s customers first, our clients first,” he said.

“Whatever they want, whatever they need, out of our huge capability portfolio, we should make accessible to them. And that seemed to be, in the past, with more siloed brands or independent brands a little bit more difficult. And now that is very much seamless.”

To listen to WPP AUNZ CEO Jens Monsees full session from Mumbrella360: Reconnected tune into this week’s Mumbrellacast


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