DraftFCB Bolsters Analytics Practice

NEW YORK DraftFCB is expanding its data and analytics practice in response to growing demand among clients such as Citi and CA and has recruited OgilvyOne’s Ira Helf to run it.

Helf, who was managing director of marketing analytics at OgilvyOne in New York, has become executive director data and analytics at DraftFCB here. The New York role is new and Helf, 55, starts next week.

At Interpublic Group’s DraftFCB, Helf will be reunited with Peter DeNunzio, president of the shop’s New York office and former general manager of WPP Group’s OgilvyOne in New York. In fact, Helf will report to DeNunzio. He’ll also work closely with New York chief creative officer Chris Becker and two global executives: chief strategy officer Vita Harris and chief customer intelligence officer Michael Fassnacht.

Among the clients that Helf worked on at OgilvyOne, where he spent more than seven years, were Unilever, DHL, Cisco, Yahoo!, Six Flags and SAP. “Ira is somebody who makes data fun,” said DeNunzio. “He has the ability to present his work in ways that are easily to understand. He takes the mystery out of it.”
Beyond Citi and CA, other DraftFCB clients that have embraced the practice of gleaning consumer insights through data include the Office of National Drug Control Policy and those in the healthcare sector, according to DeNunzio. And unlike traditional agencies that have embraced data mining relatively recently, the practice has long been part of DraftFCB’s culture, given Draft’s roots in direct marketing.

“The DraftFCB model is built on extracting consumer insights through data and the demand for our ability to analyze [such data], has never been greater,” DeNunzio said. There will always be an element of subjectivity in advertising, DeNunzio added, but the more agencies can surround their ideas with better insights through data, the better off they will be.

In his new role, Helf will oversee some 20 to 30 data strategists and data technologists and expand the practice as needed. Helf, who has a master’s in statistics, MBA in marketing and bachelor’s in mathematics, said “the more I learned about DraftFCB’s new agency model and the results it’s starting to achieve for some of the most respected clients in the business, the more I wanted to be part of this new way of working.”

Becker sees data as a means for “diminishing uncertainty” in the minds of clients, which in turn gives him freedom to take more creative risks. As such, he said that one of his goals is to make data a creative person’s “best friend.”