What’s in a Wavemaker? Positive provocation it seems

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Wavemaker is the result of a merger between two WPP media agencies, MEC and the rather smaller Maxus. The merger was a consequence of MEC losing the giant US AT&T account to Omnicom’s Hearts & Science in 2016.

Since then Wavemaker seems to have searching for a role in life even though it’s still a big operation with about 7,500 people worldwide.

Now it has a new visual identity and “platform,” as we call them these days, “Positive Provocation.” Here we go again, you may think, disrupting as we go.

Global CEO Toby Jenner, who moved over from WPP’s MediaCom last year, says: “Growth models of the past will not serve the future. Established approaches and traditional thinking are being exploded in every sector, in every market. Exceptional growth now requires uncomfortable change.

“This change demands courage, from our clients and from our people. Wavemaker understands this, we must live our name which reflects a provocative, even fearless attitude.”

If you call yourself Wavemaker, let alone a positive provoker, you have to do something different. Wavemaker was originally the content division within MEC and the newish entity still looks like an outfit that wants to have a foot in both camps – creative (content) and media.

Some clients may welcome a content contribution from their media agency (saves dealing with two competing entities), the trouble hitherto is that media agencies haven’t been very good at it. The mindsets for media traders and creatives could hardly be more different. Media execs are supposed to spend the client’s money where it does most good (they don’t always of course) while creatives are supposed to produce compelling creative ideas. The media agency’s view of the best media may not suit creative purposes.

“Positively Provoke” may prove a winning rallying cry for Wavemaker. But It does look like they’re trying to have it both ways though. Negatively provoke is hardly an alternative.

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