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Trendsetters: Vertic CEO Sebastian Jespersen Sees New Opportunities for Agencies in Product Development with Clients
Ask Sebastian Jespersen to talk about the secret behind his agency’s fast-growing success, and he makes it sound simple: “A solution is not truly successful unless it grows a brand and noticeably changes the core business, bringing tangible results.”
Born in Denmark, and with an early career in management consulting at Ernst & Young, followed CRM consulting at CSC, which included a stint in the Philippines, he is not a typical agency CEO. He sees solutions differently. Jespersen co-founded Vertic in 2002. Today, with offices in North America, Europe and Asia, Vertic is on its way to becoming one of the largest independent digital ad agencies, and perhaps one of the most profitable.
Yet, he admits, “As marketing is becoming a more crowded space, advertising agencies are becoming more and more challenged. Agencies need to start creating greater value for marketers by challenging themselves to engage in product development with their clients.”
Although we have seen great examples of product development via RG/A, Rockfish, Profero, as well as a number of Vertic solutions, Sebastian Jespersen believes this an opportunity for all digital agencies. He says, “Customers want to engage with brands beyond transactions, and brands are continually seeking to create deeper connections with the consumer. This critical shift enables digital agencies to become a crucial part of R&D as brands seek new, strategic solutions to bring product benefits to life in the digital space. And it all starts with a discovery process to find the potential value of a product to the consumer.”
He adds, “We want to the opportunity to create new product solutions, not only market them.”
Of course, he recognizes that this kind of product development requires new ways of working and new means of agency compensation; however, the benefits to the consumer and to the brand are huge. According to Jespersen, “The combination of data and strategic thinking now helps us to better predict consumer behavior and can also guide new product or service innovation.”
Last year, Vertic worked with Philips to formulate a digital strategy and online platform for their innovative product Crystalize, an in-store skin consultation kiosk. Vertic’s solution continued the in-store experience at home by facilitating a unique and personalized online experience that integrated the user’s consultation results and engaged them within an online community.
Also in 2012, Vertic worked with LEO Pharmaceuticals, a leading century-old, pharma company specializing in dermatology and critical care that provides products to over 100 countries. They developed a digitally-centered dialogue and support program globally for patients suffering from psoriasis, where content was carefully tailored to user profiles.
According to Jespersen, “Our LEO support system was successful because it increased the brand–consumer conversation and transaction. We are living in a communications era in which consumers are developing a vested interest in what a brand stands for and demanding greater access to brand information than ever before.”