Mindshare Managing Director O’Brien Sees Media And Creative Coming Together

MindshareChris O’Brien, Managing Director and Digital Office Lead, for Mindshare Chicago recently discussed his new role (read the release) and his agency perspective on the digital space.

AdExchanger.com: Can you talk a little a bit about your background and new role?

CO: I’ve been in marketing for 15 plus years, and 10 of those have been in digital here in the Chicago area. I was most recently at Razorfish and Leo Burnett.

Today, I’m the Managing Director and digital lead for the Mindshare Chicago office and am responsible for everything from building up our teams digital acumen, our reverse mentoring program to helping traditional folks learn digital and vice versa. And then I also have client responsibilities.

AdExchanger.com:  So, there are many potential jobs out there for someone like yourself in the digital realm, let’s call it. Why is “the agency” right for you and the opportunity you see at Mindshare?

I spent a good portion of my career on the creative side of the digital agency house. But I feel like more and more the way media agencies are moving is that they’re in a position to not just lead strategy development, but the creative, big idea development as well. And that’s where my passion lies – and I think Mindshare is particularly at adept at doing this.

I’ve always thought of Mindshare and GroupM as very forward thinking in the agency world. They’re clearly putting the right investments in digital and that was something that attracted me.

AdExchanger.com: Regarding the current divide of media and creative in the agency business, do those two need to come together more, or should they remain separate?

I think the line is slowly shifting towards them coming together more and more. I don’t know if it’s in the near future that media agencies are going to actually be producing creative, but I think there’s definitely room to play. I think where Mindshare does a great job is basically not just setting up the foundation for the creative idea but actually leading the creative idea and then working with other agencies to help produce that idea.

AdExchanger.com: I’m sure you’ve heard many misconceptions that clients have about digital today. What are the “hot” ones these days that clients have?

There are some clients that are incredibly savvy obviously, especially if they grew up in the digital space. Many are still trying to figure digital out, though. They know that it’s growing and it’s where they need to be, but I think they’re figuring out the “where” and the “why” of digital.

Part of my core responsibilities is helping clients make sure digital is a part of the upfront planning process. One thing that clients probably don’t really do today is put digital at the heart of that upfront planning cycle.

AdExchanger.com: Name one digital tactic an agency must know backwards and forwards above all others.

I don’t feel like there is just one. And, it depends on the clients, the product, the service and the category. The real answer is that it’s a mix. If I had to pick a couple things that I see as really important in the near term  – and probably the long term – mobile is growing tremendously and digital video is also big.

By John Ebbert

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