Dunkin' Donuts made a splash this summer when it agreed to have its brand integrated, for the first time, into a social game, joining a growing number of companies trying to reach consumers during their forays into virtual worlds. It could have been seen as a risky move by Hill Holliday, which handled the creative and media buying for Dunkin', as the game, The Sims Social, had not yet launched when the decision was made.
But Adam Cahill, co-media director at Hill Holliday, wasn't worried. Gaming, he knew, would be the perfect environment for the agency's client. "It's a combination of the amount of time people are spending in social gaming environments and the amount of passion people have for them," he says. "We thought it was a great place to be because people are really involved."
The campaign, which helped establish Dunkin' as a cutting-edge marketer, might not have come about if Hill Holliday hadn't integrated its media practice a year or so earlier. Cahill, who came from the digital side, and Cindy Stockwell, his co-media director and a traditional media vet, knocked down walls that had separated the two media buys. They also established an online ad exchange, and mobile and gaming practices.
Not having silos let Hill Holliday move on the Sims idea in about one-third the time it would have taken before. "It came together in week," Stockwell says. "By being able to move that quickly, we were able to get that first-mover advantage."
Baba Shetty, chief strategy officer at Hill Holliday, wasn't sure about the reaction he would get when he asked Stockwell and Cahill to be co-media directors. He was happily surprised. "They immediately had a positive response," Shetty says.
Stockwell's take-charge approach contrasts with Cahill's reserved demeanor, but the partnership works because of their mutual respect and complementary strengths. "If we were to make caricatures of ourselves, she'd be kind of like the grown-up of the team," Cahill says of Stockwell. "She's taken on more of the business responsibility. She's probably the pants of the family."
"I tend to swoop in a little bit more. He tends to work more deeply on things," Stockwell says. "Before Adam and I were in this partnership, we worked together; we liked each other as people. So when Baba proposed formalizing this partnership, it wasn't anything that was uncomfortable."