HelloWorld CEO on Mobile’s Role in Loyalty Programs

How it builds consumer affinity for brands like Coke, Xbox


Specs
Who Peter DeNunzio
New gig CEO of HelloWorld
Old gig General manager of cross-channel marketing group at Experian Marketing Services
Age 56

You joined HelloWorld last fall from Experian. What's your mandate at the new gig?
Our mandate is about growing the organization, and we believe that we can grow this company exponentially by evolving our value proposition to clients to being truly an integrated marketing solution provider. We run two of the biggest loyalty programs in consumer marketing: Microsoft's Xbox Live Rewards and My Coke Rewards for Coca-Cola. Of course we have our core promotions business, but [the business is] about targeted, response-driving touch points.

What's been your biggest challenge so far?
We are so busy taking care of business every day that I ask our people to pause every now and then and look back at how far we've come in a short period of time and to embrace the opportunity that lies ahead of us. This is a culture that is very in the moment.

You spent a fair amount of time in the agency world before joining HelloWorld. What did you learn that applies to your current job?
One of the things that I learned while I was with Ogilvy is how important brands are to our clients. We work with Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Starbucks, Victoria's Secret and Nestlé and we need to be very sensitive to continuing to build those brands, and that's obviously a skill set that was developed in the agency business.

Why move away from promotions?
Promotion as a marketing discipline is no longer about short-term tactics and sales from an immediate offer. Promotion has evolved into the beginning of a conversation with a prospect that gives us an opportunity to continue to communicate [with someone] until they become a core customer.

A lot of your work uses mobile to build loyalty programs. Do you think mobile works for sales?
We think of mobile in different ways. There are clients who very much rely on it as a sales channel. There are clients who rely on it as a means to communicate with a target audience that otherwise would be invisible. Then there are other clients that use mobile the way [marketers] used to use email—they just load and blast out a variety of messages to make sure the brand is always at the forefront of a consumer's mind.

What got you initially interested in advertising?
I wandered into a career services office in college when I had no clue what I wanted to do. I was an English major with a so-called minor in French and absolutely no commercial skills. There was a sign-up sheet for an interview with N.W. Ayer & Son, which at the time was the largest ad agency in New York City. I put my name down, I got an interview with the agency and I've more or less been in the business ever since.