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Jun 18 2012

PSFK - SapientNitro Exec Explains How To Speak To The Digital Consumer [Cannes]


Freddie Laker discusses why brands need to revolutionize their attitude taking into account the new mobile focus of their customer’s lives.

By Carib Guerra

Freddie Laker, self professed Digital Evangelist, is currently supporting and expanding SapientNitro’s multi-national accounts in a rapidly evolving marketing landscape. While preparing for his talk at the Cannes Lions Festival, PSFK spoke with Freddie Laker to get his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities in thinking globally no matter what your marketing scale.

Freddie, you’re back in Cannes. How do you think the industry has changed over the last 12 months?

In conversations with our global clients, we’re seeing more digitally led strategies and, overall, in-house marketers are becoming more sophisticated in their use of digital. That may sound like a no-brainer to PSFK readers but most large enterprises continue to treat digital as a separate “channel.” The :30 spot still rules and attracts the big budgets, but the center of their customers’ lives is no longer the living room couch. Getting an 800 pound gorilla to lead with digital thinking requires a sea change for large companies hindered by outdated organizational structures. We’re starting to see this shift as companies recognize that digital has become the center of their customers’ lives — they’re connected at the hip, quite literally. When we go into client meetings now, we’re increasingly seeing the CMO and CIO at the same table, a sign we welcome. In addition, I think that data will be another revolution in our industry over the next couple years. Super smart use of data hasn’t gone mainstream yet, but big brands have been talking about it a lot more over the last 12 months.

What recent piece of work at SapientNitro really reflects how your agency has been evolving?

At SapientNitro, we call ourselves Idea Engineers — meaning, we not only come up with game-changing ideas but we build them too. We’re a culture of strategists, creatives, and techies working collaboratively — this “mixing” often results in innovative solutions that come out looking very unique, very “SapientNitro.” For UK client Ladbrokes, a venerable betting and gaming company, we transformed their business by developing a first ever multi-channel, real-time betting platform. The mobile app connects hugely complex technology with a clean, usable interface to deliver live results against live odds. Plus, as their AOR, we promoted the live betting in print, shop window posters, digital, mobile, TVC’s and social media campaigns through the famously wacky Italian football commentator, Tiziano Crudeli. TV ads started to get real–time betting opportunities in them. Mobile connected customers in the living room, at the pub, or at an event had an instant opportunity to get in on the action. I can’t think of another agency that can deliver TV spots and billboards all the way through to complex tech platforms involving mind-boggling mathematics – all under one roof. Through Connected Thinking we were able to reinvent Ladbroke’s business and the way they connect to customers. Using technology as a catalyst to create amazing brand experiences for customers – that, in a nutshell, is what excites us.

You’re speaking with Omar Epps on a panel called at “Global Brands vs. Global Celebrities: Who’s the Smarter Marketer?” – How did this come about? What point are you trying to make?

In the last 6 months, SapientNitro conducted 20 in-depth interviews with senior marketers, and followed it up with a survey to 115 senior global marketers and CMOs, as well as secondary research. What we found was an industry struggling with change. The marketing world is in a state of flux. Driven by parallel trends of globalization and digitization, senior marketers are operating in a world increasingly connected through technology. While this is well understood, driving successful marketing on a global scale remains a big challenge for brands.

To operate in this new environment, we believe brand marketers must use a new global marketing mindset. Our research and experience have shown that disproportional success comes through “connected thinking” - thinking that’s underpinned by the mastery of data and technology.

We chose Monday’s topic at Cannes because we think that being successful as a global marketer is more important than ever. Understanding a global marketing mindset could be what defines the most successful brands of the next 10 years, but having a global mindset doesn’t mean you need to be a global brand. As businesses look to export their success into other markets and the number of global brands increases, you will find that your brand or your client’s brand will need to increasingly defend against new global competition.

We recently became the agency for LeBron James (go Heat!). During the process of researching his competition we realized how many interesting insights could be shared in the way that global celebrities market themselves and their message. We had a discussion in the office about the marketing savvy of Lady Gaga, of Dr Dre. It got us to thinking: what can brands learn from celebrities? Conversely, what can celebrities learn from brands? Many know Omar Epps through his many years playing Dr. Eric Foreman on the global hit TV show “House.” But, you may not know he’s a savvy web entrepreneur, to boot. I met Omar through his online video platform venture, Beeyoo (, and knew he’d be a great fit for our seminar. We’re taking a brand vs celebrity debate-style approach that I think the audience – and PSFK viewers — will get a kick out of and, hopefully, provoke some discussion of their own.

Thanks Freddie!

Catch up with Freddie at this year’s festival when he teams up with the Actor and Web Entrepreneur Omar Epps to debate:

Global Brands vs Global Celebrities: Who’s the Smarter Marketer?

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity

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