"Brands must build social capital: Havas CEO"

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ISTANBUL: Brands should make greater use of social media as a tool to build "social capital" with consumers, Fernando Rodés Vilà, the chief executive of Havas, has said.

Speaking at the WFA/RVD Global Advertiser Conference this week, Rodés Vilà argued that the interactivity at the very heart of the web means the "consumer is now in control".

He also told delegates that brands should look to increase their "social capital" by highlighting issues like sustainability and transparency in their marketing messages.

While agencies have been "extremely slow" in adapting their business models to reflect this development, some advertisers are beginning to make in-roads in this area.

Rodés Vilà cited social media campaigns from Nike, which has created the world's largest community of runners, Danone and Hyundai as having successfully tapped in to this trend.

Despite the challenging climate, Rodés Vilà did sound a note of cautious optimism about the future for agencies.

"It's harsh today, but I think it'll be sunny, not tomorrow, but the day after," he said.

At the same event, Blake Chandlee, vice president, Europe, at Facebook, said firms should shift from "brand management to community management".

He urged advertisers to move beyond traditional campaign microsites, and instead look to drive incremental sales through engagement on social networks.

Recent examples of this cited by Chandlee included a drive by Adidas to recruit 200,000 additional "fans" for its Facebook account in March this year.

The sportswear manufacturer expects to generate an additional $20 million (€14.8m; £13.2m) in annual revenues from this group.

Another speaker at the conference, David Wheldon, global brand director at Vodafone, added that traditional agencies were "the best people" for "building and steering brands".

Moreover, he suggested that the "fundamentals" of marketing had not been changed by the growth of digital platforms.

In a separate presentation, Pekka Rantala, cmo of Nokia, revealed that the Finnish handset manufacturer is now "insisting" its creative and media partners overhaul their working practices.

"All of them have to change - not just a little bit, but almost completely," Rantala said, adding that the firm's digital outlay exceeded its TV spend for the first time last year.

Nokia has scored some hits in the social media sphere recently, including the Internet Millionaire contest in China, which attracted almost 20 million unique users, and special Ramadan apps in the Middle East.

Elsewhere, Galya Frayman Molinas, president of Coca-Cola Turkey, showed that a sustainability-focused campaign delivered a 35% uptick in the brand's reputation among customers.

Full reports from the Global Advertiser Conference, including further insights from organisations like Unilever, Billetts and the ARF, will be available on Warc soon.

Data sourced from Warc, 01 April 2010
Source: warc.com