Barry Frey Chats with Brian Nienhaus of We Are Unlimited

By DPAA InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Barry Frey Chats with Brian Nienhaus of We Are Unlimited

Barry Frey, who as President and CEO of DPAA will be hosting the 10th annual Video Everywhere Summit on November 1 in New York City, recently interviewed some of the event's featured speakers on a variety of topics.  The following is his chat with Brian Nienhaus, CEO, We Are Unlimited, U.S. creative agency for McDonald's.

Barry Frey:  What media do you consume on a daily basis?

Brian Nienhaus:  Overall, I'm a mix of old school and new media.  I read the Wall Street Journal each day online but still grab a print edition when traveling.  I love the feel of folding the pages and the bit of ink that gets on my fingers.  Since I drive from the suburbs of Chicago to the city, I naturally see tons of out of home.  But NPR is my constant commuting companion and I love weekends with The Moth and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.  Mashable, The Daily Beast and Twitter all play some role in my day, too.  

Frey:  What are the biggest changes you foresee for the advertising business over the next few years?

Nienhaus:  In the next few years I see changes in talent, channels and approaches including:

  • The demand for talent with experience in analytics and data will continue to increase.  Media and technology partners, clients and agencies are all competing for the same group of data specialists.  But in order to attract them, our industry needs to demonstrate that we understand their capabilities and truly value their talent.
  • Addressable media might finally be here to stay and CRM will become increasingly sexy and sophisticated.  Not just the modern direct mail/email.
  • Finding the right balance of tools for modern marketing will always be a point of discussion in the industry -- digital vs. traditional, programmatic vs. planned/premium buys, analytics/data vs. intuition.  But creativity will continue to impact these hot topics and how we approach them for our clients.

Frey:  Is digital OOH part of McDonald's media plan and, if so, how does your agency handle creative for that medium?

Nienhaus:  OOH plays a key role for McDonald's primarily at the local level.  Driving to restaurants, messaging promotes LTOs and key products and also increase the demand for McDelivery.  Unlimited sees OOH as part of the repertoire of useful media, particularly to drive activation.  But we also are looking at ways to reach and influence customers through the focused power of OOH.  As the full weight of McDonald's national and local media are leveraged, the potential for creating an innovative impact becomes increasingly valuable.

Frey:  Given the digitization of out-of-home media, the medium is now more digital, location data-infused and programmatic.  What do you see as present and future opportunities for digital out-of-home?

Nienhaus:  Some of the new formats and innovations in out-of-home are truly remarkable, especially for a channel that is the modern successor to the original advertising form-branded signage.  Finding ways to tap into and connect to mobile experiences is a really interesting opportunity for the medium.

What we are currently seeing is a bit more optimistic take on Blade Runner and other futuristic, sci-fi examples that have presented a world where advertising is pervasive and all around us.  Essentially any screen with an IP address (which today is virtually every screen) is a point of connection to consumers.  This is interesting because it has the potential to bring value to consumers and advertisers which is mutually beneficial.  But hold off talking to me about this until it's both useful and relevant.

As these points of consumer interaction become smarter, they can truly move from being six-word static banners to engaging consumer experiences.  These experiential interactions have the potential to add value to almost any opportunity, whether that's guiding a weary traveler through an airport or entertaining and educating commuters.  Provide me with wi-fi or a battery in a busy city center right when I need it and you'll pique my interest.  It's really as exciting as any innovation channel in media today.

Frey:  Tell us a bit about your upcoming speaking appearance at the Video Everywhere Summit.

Nienhaus:  I'll be taking the stage with McDonald's Senior Director of Global Media and Digital Marketing, Anja Carroll.  She and I are looking forward to sharing some thoughts about how McDonald's views digital placed-based media and the channel's potential for innovation.  As a heavy buyer of television and other video formats, we're interested in where this category can go towards offering more interactive, targeted and high impact forms.

Frey:  What is your favorite recently downloaded app?

Nienhaus:  I recently started using an app called Mint.  I've also been testing Trello and Google Assistant for the iPhone.  Who knew there would eventually be so much cross-over between devices, platforms, etc.?

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