MediaCom’s Fraser Riddell helps US advertisers think beyond borders

Riddell talks about his new role and growing business globally with Deborah Malone of The Internationalist

Before delivering more than $9 billion in global billings as the head of new business, Fraser Riddell began his 23-year career at MediaCom in client management, which he describes as a true passion. Good news, then, that his recently announced new role as Global Chief Client Officer brings him back to this first love: this time, with an interesting twist.

Fraser’s new responsibilities include establishing a division called MediaCom Beyond Borders, the purpose of which the agency’s official statement describes as “elevating the worldwide service MediaCom provides to international advertisers based in the United States.” In person, Fraser is able to give the MBB’s purpose more shape. “With more than 100 offices in nearly 90 countries, of course MediaCom already has many clients whom we serve in multiple markets… but the attractiveness of expansion for US advertisers [outside the US] is more pronounced, less expensive and can be realised more quickly than ever before,” Fraser tells us. “There are many, many reasons for this. The shifting global economy, rising Internet penetration and smartphone adoption and the availability of real-time data, for example, are all empowering advertisers to expand.”

At the same time, Fraser says that clients still prefer to rely on partners who are only a drive or short flight away: people who not only understand local markets by living them, but who are available for sit-downs as a matter of course, not on an exception basis. “Put all this together, and what we at MediaCom see, at least, are more robust, reactive and proactive opportunities than we’ve ever had before. Combining thousands of in-market experts with the best technologies to help drive client growth is the ultimate raison d’être for an agency like ours today, but it doesn’t happen on its own – or at least, we can make it happen more quickly by having a dedicated unit connected to every local office 24/7, constantly scanning the network, leveraging what we might learn from a client’s expansion to the advantage of another in an entirely different category, making new introductions in markets where clients may have a growing curiosity. MBB becomes an accelerant to growing client business by promoting new connections before busy client teams or even clients themselves might see them.”

Having relocated to MediaCom’s New York office from London 2 years ago, Fraser plans to staff MBB with globally-minded US execs who can quickly create a comfort level with marketers by understanding American “rules of engagement.” He says the ultimate size of the unit will depend upon the reach and depth of relationships a small “starting lineup” can establish.

“MediaCom has the greatest people in markets all over the world, Fraser says. “The name of the game isn’t building another kingdom: it’s being able to stand on those talented people’s shoulders to help them and their clients see what might be coming next.”

This article was originally published in The Internationalist’Trendsetters newsletter, April 2013.

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