Digitas’ Dave Marsey on Inspiring Consumers to Share

Dave Marsey is the SVP/Media Practice Lead at Digitas in Chicago. Previously, he has held roles at other major agencies, including ID Media (part of Draftfcb), Avenue A and Scient/iXL. We recently spoke with Dave about his role and current trends.

The Makegood: Dave, you have been teaching a Digital Marketing Strategies course at the University of Chicago for over 10 years. Given that digital media has evolved significantly since you began, can you tell us some of the biggest differences in your course as compared to a decade ago?

DM: It started as a course built around the theme of “build it and they will come” doesn’t work. It was hard – believe it or not – to make a case for media being an important part of the mix when we first started building websites. It next became about validating that the channel was about marketing and not about technology as the bubble burst. That marketing and business objectives needed to drive us beyond just what was possible. That led to a philosophy of “fish where the fish are” in the we don’t have to drive consumers to your brand, rather, put your brand where your consumers already are. The current iteration is all around how to play in the social space; that’s about creating content and driving engagement to generate earned media.

The Makegood: What are you focused on at Digitas?

DM: My role focuses on leading how we plan across owned and paid channels to maximize earned media. This includes re-imagining our media capability around how we architect experiences around audiences on behalf of our clients. This includes creating new ways to glean insights about our audiences that show what they’re likely to engage with, translating that into content strategies, understanding budget allocation across owned and paid, and finally how to buy only the audiences we want.

The Makegood: You recently talked about pushing innovation for your clients by proposing ideas that have never been done before. Where does your team get inspiration to develop these innovative ideas?

DM: It all starts from unique insights about audiences that are hard to find yet unleash a tidal wave of ideas. Only then can we get inspired by our creative partners, media property partners, and the client themselves. Sharing great work, opinions, observations and everyday aspects of life help to keep our people curious and eager to create.

The Makegood: You have recently been talking about focusing on earned media to increase the efficiency of reach. Would you say that there is a specific tactic for leveraging earned media that you have found to be especially effective?

DM: The best tactic is an inspired and engaged consumer that is given a reason to share and a platform to do so. We saw this first-hand with our Real Women of Philadelphia program we created for Kraft Foods. In the quest to grow sales of cream cheese through showing consumers that you can bake with it, we found a passionate group that swore by using Philadelphia Cream Cheese for everyday recipes like adding it to your marinara to make it creamier. They were eager to share recipes but lacked a platform. By creating the Real Women of Philadelphia and selecting Paul Deen to host the competition, we gave them the platform and off they went.

The Makegood: What are some of the campaigns out of the Digitas Chicago office that you are especially proud of this year?

DM: I’m most proud of Real Women of Philadelphia, which generated more than 12,000 recipe videos and more than 25 million views, a 5 percent increase in sales as well as received a Gold Effie.

The Makegood: Thanks, Dave.