BBDO Doubles Down on Data by Hiring New Head of Marketing Science

Sharona Sankar-King to help develop 'the right kind of creative'

BBDO has not abandoned its focus on "The Work, The Work, The Work," but Adweek's 2015 U.S. Agency of the Year has created an evp, head of marketing science role to help ensure that the work is more rigorously tested. This week the Omnicom agency's New York office announced the hiring of Sharona Sankar-King to fill the new position in what amounts to an expansion of its data-based approach to creative product.

In discussing his agency's success for last year's profile piece, BBDO New York CEO John Osborn pointed to the team assembled by head of data solutions Tina Allan, who joined the shop in November after more than a decade with direct marketing agency RAPP, as evidence of its strategic attempts to "maximize our creative impact." Moving forward, Sankar-King will work closely with Allan while utilizing Omnicom's Annalect marketing technology platform and BBDO's "proprietary modeling group," known as The Worth.

"Applying analytics to creativity is where our industry is headed and BBDO is leading that charge," says Sankar-King, who assumes the role after leading the North American digital analytics practice at WPP's MEC. "That's what drew me to BBDO."

"Media is data rich, but as we all know, media can only be effective when content and creative captures consumers' attention and connects them in a powerful way with the brands," she adds. "What John, Tina (Allan), and I are building is a more integrated process to better leverage the data that is produced by consumers throughout their journey and experience," she adds. 

"It's not creating a separate silo," says Osborn in assuring Adweek that the data department's ongoing expansion will not push against creative teams. "It's not about reducing the caliber of the creative; it's about making the creative better-informed, harder working, et cetera."

Osborn positions BBDO's offering as a way for clients to better make sense of a data storm that grows thicker and more unmanageable by the day. "Clients are seeing the difference," he says, "and creative people are really enjoying the better informed approach to strategy work that ultimately provides the foundation for creative. I think the work is better because of it."

Sankar-King brings more than two decades worth of experience to the new position. Beyond serving as MEC's top data scientist and holding similar positions at FCB, RAPP and DigitasLBi, she has also worked client-side as credit reporting agency Experian's group director of digital analytics and senior data analyst at Time, Inc. Throughout her career, she has worked with clients across the telecommunications, pharmaceutical, retail, travel, automotive and packaged goods industries.