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Q&A: DAC chief executive Norm Hagarty chats about rebranding
With a history spanning four decades, DAC Group is one of the largest independent digital media agencies in North America and a growing international presence with offices in the US, Canada and Europe. Having recently announced a rebrand, The Drum spoke to Norm Hagarty, chief executive officer and managing partner of DAC to find out more.
The company has a 40-year history – what prompted the rebrand now?
In a word, growth. We look at growth in four different ways. The first is growth in our clients, specifically the transformational growth that we help them drive by connecting them to their audiences, from the brand right down to the hyper-local level. The second is growth in our offering. Over the last five years we have diversified our offering to add or strengthen a number of digital services to our foundation of local content, local presence management, media and strategy. We have added extremely robust data and analytics capabilities as well as content strategy and user experience. We needed a platform to pull these offerings together in a differentiated way. The third is growth in our footprint. Through acquisitions, joint ventures and net new investments we have expanded to 13 offices in 6 countries. We needed to unify our brand in a way that resonates in each of these markets. Last but no less important is the growth in our people. Our team of ‘Geeks with Personality’ are the driving force behind our success, and we need the brand to energize them, that was representative of what they now bring and the values they apply to our clients and to each other.
Who are some of the clients we are working with now?
We really focus on the types of brands for whom we drive transformational growth. For us, those are national and international brands that need to transact with their audiences at the hyper-local level. Those include brands such as Bridgestone, Sylvan Learning and Vera Bradley in North America, Hotel Chocolat, Center Parcs and David Lloyd in the UK and Viactiv in Germany. Due to our focus and alignment with their requirements, we have been fortunate to be rewarded with an agency wide NPS of 62, and this has helped us retain and grow these partnerships, in some cases for almost a decade in digital.
What are the challenges for DAC right now and for the industry as a whole? How does repositioning the agency help with this?
I think the biggest challenge is the pace of change, which is only accelerating. The consolidation of media in a duopoly of publishers, the rise of self-serve platforms, the well-documented struggles of the advertising conglomerates, the movement towards in-housing marketing functions, the drive of the consultancies into this space…all these massive challenges are symptoms of the technological changes we are witnessing. The rise of mobile changed everything. The emergence of voice based technologies and artificial intelligence will only accelerate this disruption. Cutting through this noise, having a differentiated point of view and offering, delivering real impact in line with business performance goals…these are the types of things we do as an agency and needed to reflect through the brand refresh. It highlights our differentiation and the impact for our clients, namely to drive transformational growth by connecting our clients with their audiences, no matter who they are, and uniquely, where they are.
How are you growing the business going forward?
Our strategy rests on a couple of key pillars. First, we are extremely active in the industry, with heavy involvement in speaking at marquee events and submitting for awards in North America and Europe. This is driving awareness of who DAC is and how we are different. This has led to us increasingly being contacted for participation in major agency reviews. We are growing through partnerships with best in class technology providers such as Microsoft and Adobe. We are also fortunate enough to benefit from referrals from our clients as they themselves network and move from brand to brand. Finally, we are still looking to grow our footprint internationally to bring our differentiated offering to new markets.
Can you explain the thinking behind your new logo?
This intersecting icon symbolizes DAC’s commitment to the Partnership Ethic. Partnership is at the heart of what we do and how we do it. We come through for our client partners. We focus on their success. Their success is our success.
Growth is the DNA of our firm. Searching for alternative pathways to grow our clients’ businesses is what we do best. This icon symbolizes our willingness to embrace change and thrive. A growth culture is positive and optimistic.
The virtuous loop is a mathematical symbol denoting Infinite Possibilities. Seeing opportunity in the explosion of data and learning in the digital world are embodied in this icon. We embrace learning from the avalanche of data available and the mathematics of digital marketing. We blend our strategic savvy and market experience with the quantitative skills to find the best possible solutions. This icon is intended to help reinforce a forward-looking, optimistic view.
Ideas are the lifeblood of DAC. Ideas are fueled by creativity in everyone. DAC culture celebrates curiosity and rewards ingenuity. Both are essential ingredients in the relentless search for powerful ideas and innovation.
The Plus icon symbolizes the addition of our considerable talents and capabilities to achieve “plus” growth. It also reinforces the positive, optimistic attitude that supports our growth culture.
Norm Hagarty, CEO and managing partner, DAC
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