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Leo Burnett taps Rupert Runewitsch to meld brand-building with technology

Leo Burnett has named Rupert Runewitsch as social and mobile head of North America to help clients ramp up their digital efforts while maintaining some of the creative planning that the Midwest agency is known for with brands including McDonald's, Samsung and Esurance.

Mr. Runewitsch is based in the company?s San Francisco office and is responsible for pairing up clients with West Coast Internet giants and start-ups. Leo Burnett?s hiring within the unified mobile and social practice underscores the importance for agencies to build up digital expertise at all levels of campaign development as the medium grabs a bigger share of marketing budgets.

?The proximity to the partners in Silicon Valley allows us to try and plug new partners in into the planning at any stage,? Mr. Runewitsch said. ?We want to get them into the planning as early as possible.

?The way I like to think about it [is] you have your back-end planning and you have your front-end planning,? he said. ?We know that back-end planning from a brand point-of-view happens years in advance, at least a year in advance, and this front-end planning, execution stage is where we have to be as nimble and agile as the partners themselves.

?Leo Burnett has always built its foundations on strong brand-building, so our back-end planners are some of the best in the industry. We?re definitely in this stage now where we?re focusing a lot on the front-end planning as well. This will be our specialty in mobile and social ? making sure that the stories and creative that we?re telling lives in every channel available, or the right channels at least.?

Below, the executive discusses how mobile fits into Leo Burnett and its activation agency Arc Worldwide and what brands can learn from Facebook and Google?s revenue shift towards the medium. 

What is your mandate with mobile at Leo Burnett?
I think when it comes to mobile, we?re definitely working towards a mobile-up mentality. That?s looking not necessarily broadcast or TV down, but thinking about what role does communication play within the mobile space.

Traditionally, we?d be planning for TV and then say, ?What does the storytelling look like there?? We [now] make sure that the idea is going to be living in the mobile space first and foremost. 

I think if you look at the way Facebook and Google are moving, all of their business models are moving towards this mobile-up mentality. From a planning point of view, that?s definitely where the Internet is heading. Our opening up in San Francisco in the Silicon Valley proximity speaks to the fact that we need to be closer to these partners.

Previously, you were client services director at the British agency Holler. What did you learn in that role that you hope to apply to your new position?
Holler is a lot smaller than Leo Burnett Chicago, which is about 1,800 people [whereas] Holler is about 80 people. That allows for the agency to be very agile and nimble, and I think the mentality that I?ve got from the client service portion for this macro planning point-of-view is that agile mentality.

With the agile mentality that brands are demanding these days, I think it?s perfect to build teams. And making sure that you have the right people, the right talent and the right specialties so the clients are paying exactly what they need to pay and getting the right output.

How is mobile set up at Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide?
Depending on the client, we will plug in a mobile specialist when needs be. There is a mobile department just within Leo Burnett and Arc. So the role of mobile within Arc is a bit different because it?s all about mcommerce and mobile activation whereas within Leo Burnett, it?s more about the creative output, storytelling and the role that mobile plays.

What is the process in determining how a client uses mobile?
This is personally from a client service background, I?m used to knowing what that commercial need for the client is. It?s really understanding the commercial objective of the client is and then making sure that the mobile and social platforms that we find meet that commercial need.

We?re not just going to adopt a platform for the platform?s sake. We?re not just jumping on the bandwagon. We?re doing it because it?s going to meet the right type of audience and sell the right commercial purpose.

How deep into mobile are Leo Burnett?s clients?
Within Arc, we?re using mobile the whole time. We?re purposing the use of iBeacon for clients and all of the proximity-based app platforms.

When it comes to mobile with some of our Leo Burnett clients, I guess you can look at [the recent SuperBowl] Esurance campaign and although you may say, ?No, that is a social campaign,' well, it wasn?t because 70 percent of all the interactions came from mobile. 

So, we look at mobile from an activation point-of-view and how it can facilitate a deeper level of engagement and storytelling. 

I think the interesting thing is our alignment of social and mobile together. They work hand-in-hand ? you don?t get social without mobile because all of social is being activated through mobile.

What do you think the market is like right now in terms of mobile creative?
One of the big trends that have come out that?s actually been a bit of a disaster for people involved in this space is the amount of car crash ads we?ve done in real-time activations, particularly around the Super Bowl. Clients are being more perceptive to real-time, but that doesn?t mean you can do real-time.

Obviously, real-time and mobile go hand-in-hand, but for me the biggest trend is definitely from a build point-of-view. I personally have done a 360 in the last two years. [In the past,] I would have been purposing platform-neutral, HTML5 builds to all the clients because of the cost efficiency and the access point-of-view, and actually mainly because you weren?t able to switch between apps from Facebook, which was predominately the main traffic-driver with a lot of our audiences.

I keep talking about Facebook?s movements because it obviously affects a lot of our traffic and our media buying. You can now switch in and out between Facebook and apps, and that is a big move because brands and agencies are helping to build apps for our clients within Facebook, and now we can build them outside of Facebook, but we don?t lose our traffic or our audience. 

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York