Y&R’s Mike Samet
Mike Samet, the Young & Rubicam executive charged with running the agency holding company’s new media properties, admits the sites produced by the company aren’t exactly envelope-pushing.
“We’re not about ‘next big things,'” says Samet, 48, a Y&R executive vice president and chief executive officer of its recently formed new media unit Brand Dialogue. Even the fairly cool 7Up site, he adds, was only “a wonderful example of branding.” That site, which features the latest technology, targets the youth market with its music and issues-oriented content.
In the new media world, being unimpressed by digital “flash and dash” is at odds with the industry’s never-ending quest for “cool.” But in spite of his atypical behavior, Samet is not one to be overlooked. Hired originally as both media and new technologies director of the agency in 1994, he had previously worked on an early new media project, HealthLink, before it was bought by Whittle Communications. And, having worked for a decade on Procter & Gamble in the media department at then Benton & Bowles, he gained an understanding of mainstream brands.
Perhaps Samet’s master’s degree in operations research from the Polytechnic Institute of New York gives him sufficient geek background for the task ahead. At the helm of Brand Dialogue, he oversees global new media output of both the Y&R agency and Wunderman Cato Johnson.
The fondness Samet has for diagrams reflects his little-used degree. He is especially enamored of a sketch called “dialogue between brands and consumers,” which depicts the eventual meeting of the two camps. As he draws, he bemoans how infrequently developers use tactics such as registration to keep track of Web travelers. “Wouldn’t it be better if a site knew you were a customer?” he asks.
Samet admits that none of Brand Dialogue’s clients have yet embraced that vision. “We need to do serious one-to-one work in interactive,” he says. However, he still sees the need for creating globally recognizable brand identities. Within Brand Dialogue, the Y&R side of the family focuses on bigger branding issues while WCJ gives input on addressing the niche audiences reachable on the Net.
As he works to build Brand Dialogue, Samet looks as though he will continue his healthy skepticism about the Web. “Everything has limits,” he says.
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