Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA News Roundup: The Evening Standard, Social, Valtech

The Evening Standard has launched a new digital hub that strengthens its position as a leading provider of news and culture for Londoners, everywhere. With an improved website delivering the very best in news, sport, comment, culture and politics, an award-winning newspaper and a vast array of social feeds, podcasts and live events, the Evening Standard is deepening its role at the heart of the London conversation. The new-look delivers a major revamp to the brand’s digital identity, offering a cleaner, brighter and more modern design and vastly improved user experience. The navigation is simplified, load times are reduced and image quality is upgraded. The new site delivers far greater flexibility in layout and allows the Standard to elevate its premium quality content with a renewed focus on brand-safe areas such as fashion, travel, culture and tech. Names of channels have been made clearer for audience and commercial partners: Reveller becomes Going Out, Insider becomes Lifestyle, and Escapist becomes Travel. Daily news podcast The Leader will be also renamed The Standard to consolidate the digital identity across all channels. New article types mean readers and advertisers alike can enjoy bold pages with great imagery, galleries, video and various embeds to maximise engagement and recirculating. Also launching today is a new dedicated social channel for the Standard on WhatsApp, where the best stories, features and interviews will be sent directly to users via the messaging app further increasing engagement with readers.

Purpose-driven communications agency Social has made several new appointments and promotions within its Northern offices. New arrivals at Social include Account Manager Beth Chaplow and Account Executive Tilly Bratton, while Joshua Hammond has been promoted from Senior Account Manager to Account Director and Brandon Henderson has been promoted to Senior Account Executive. Chaplow has joined Social after four years at an agency in Leeds, having worked in the property, education, travel and tourism, and food and drink sectors. She was drawn to Social because of its strong credentials in property and the built environment and is now working with Ahead Partnership, Extra MSA Group and Caddick Developments, among others. Bratton joined Social earlier this year as Account Executive after completing an MA in International Public and Political Communication at the University of Sheffield. She has so far worked with clients such as Cheshire and Warrington LEP, CLES and Ahead Partnership. Hammond has been with Social since September 2021, having previously worked as a journalist at Newsco Insider and The CN Group in his career. Amongst the clients he works with at Social are The Growth Company, NP11 and Muse. Henderson joined Social last year, having completed an MA in Political Communication at the University of Leeds and worked as a Parliamentary Intern to Dame Diana Johnson MP. He works with clients such as Eurowind, Caddick Developments and NP11, and has already earned a promotion to Senior Account Executive. 

Valtech has appointed three senior hires to accelerate its growth in Europe. With decades of experience managing household-name clients, these appointments highlight Valtech’s commitment to acquiring and nurturing enterprise-size clients for its experience, commerce and transformation offerings. Alexandra Mennes joins Valtech as Director of Business Development for DACH. Based in Düsseldorf, Mennes has spent the last 7.5 years as Senior Partner Development Manager and Agency Partner Lead at Microsoft Germany. She played a core role in designing, leading and expanding Microsoft’s partner program for agencies, and bringing the program into the Microsoft Business Platform. Mennes also developed the global blueprint for how Microsoft Corporation partners with digital agencies. Previously, she held directorial roles at Starcom MediaVest DACH and Tomorrow Focus Technologies, part of Burda Digital. With a solid technical background, Mennes will accelerate Valtech’s partner sales and new business activations in the German-speaking regions, using her experience working with agencies and vendors in sales and go-to-market strategy development.

Also joining Valtech’s European team, Julien Vitre takes on the role of Head of Growth for France and Romandie. Previously a Senior Account Director at Merkle, Vitre led relationships with key global clients. Before that, he spent four years at Publicis Sapient, most recently as Head of Nissan Digital Platforms. At Valtech, Vitre will build on his mix of client partnership and delivery experience and work with clients to drive their transformation across France and Romandie. Vitre and Mennes will work closely with Andreas Schwarz, who has recently taken on the role of Senior Vice President of Growth in Europe. He leads Valtech’s regional growth teams and is establishing it as a first-choice company for experience innovation. Schwarz was previously Senior Director of Client Management at Publicis Sapient, responsible for nurturing the company’s automotive and consumer products clients. He also has years of experience as a management consultant specialising in digital transformation and M&A activities, and has held management roles at Host Europe Solutions and Telefonica.

Recent research by Qlik® shows that enterprises are planning significant investments in technologies that enhance data fabrics to enable generative AI success, and are looking to a hybrid approach that incorporates generative AI with traditional AI to scale its impact across their organizations. The “Generative AI Benchmark Report”, executed in August 2023 by Enterprise Technology Research (ETR) on behalf of Qlik, surveyed 200 C-Level executives, VPs, and Directors from Global 2000 firms across multiple industries. The survey explores how leaders are leveraging the generative AI tools they purchased, lessons learned, and where they are focusing to maximize their generative AI investments. The report found that while the initial excitement of what generative AI can deliver remains, leaders understand they need to surround these tools with the right data strategies and technologies to fully realize their transformative potential. And while many are forging ahead with generative AI to alleviate competitive pressures and gain efficiencies, they are also looking for guidance on where to start and how to move forward quickly while keeping an eye on risk and governance issues.

Medallia, a specialist in customer and employee experience, has announced the addition of Simonetta Turek as Chief Product Officer. Turek brings decades of leadership with a focus on innovation and customer experience globally. She will lead product management and design at Medallia as a member of the executive leadership team. Turek is a proven executive product leader with an impressive background in delivering innovative solutions to the market at global technology companies like Genesys, Nokia, and AWS. Most recently she was GM of the Customer Experience Products division at Twilio.

Big Sky Studios, one of the UK’s most iconic purpose-built creative spaces, has launched a bespoke, full-service creative and production agency for fashion, beauty, entertainment and food and beverage brands. The Agency at Big Sky will partner with clients to produce elevated 360 content from Big Sky’s fifteen production studios across King’s Cross and Hoxton, as well as on location. The launch is in response to the urgent need for brands to fast-track the development of their content strategies. The Agency expands upon Big Sky’s trusted reputation as a creative campus and top quality in-house services that have been developed over 20 years. Through adding end-to-end creative and production services, the promise of exceptional client experience and access to creative technology, workflows and a family of exceptional artists and talent is guaranteed. Big Sky Agency opens its doors on 19th October 2023. It will be co-led by Laura Bungey, Head of Commercial Operations, and Mike Sheils, Head of Business Development. 

IMPACT+ has hired ad tech veteran Bernie Sham as the company’s new Product Marketing Director. Sham, who has worked in the ad industry for almost two decades for companies including IPONWEB, Mediacom, Quantcast and Omnicom Media Group (OMG), will be responsible for driving awareness and industry-wide adoption of the advertising platform’s advanced suite of sustainability solutions. Sham brings with him a wealth of experience to his new role, having worked in the industry for 18 years at both agencies and tech platforms. Before joining IMPACT+, Sham helped establish the product marketing function for IPONWEB, before its acquisition by Criteo, where he helped launch the MediaGrid (now Criteo Commerce Grid). Prior to that, he was a senior product manager at Quantcast, where he developed the company’s ad platform, focused on measurement, targeting and inventory. He also headed up Omnicom’s programmatic offering, moving to the agency in 2011 at the advent of RTB to help with the development of the company’s trading desk. Starting his career in 2005 at Zenith Optimedia, he has also held senior roles at Mediacom and Kenshoo (now Skai).

Seqera, a software provider for complex data analysis in the life sciences space, has been confirmed as the official High Performance Computing Supplier for Alinghi Red Bull Racing at the 37th America’s Cup. Just as in sailing where understanding data to improve the margins can result in the biggest breakthroughs, Seqera’s software empowers scientists to optimize their research processes and accelerate scientific innovation. After being the first European team to win the America’s Cup in 2003, Alinghi joined forces with Red Bull in 2022 to create a new team setting out to win the 37th America’s Cup. Known for its development of cutting-edge technology and high-performance culture, Alinghi Red Bull Racing strives to use insights and data analytics through innovations that can make all the difference when it comes to sailing. As the official High Performance Computing Supplier, Seqera will be supporting Alinghi Red Bull Racing team to make data analysis and decision making easier and more effective.

Wavemaker has been appointed as global media consultancy partner for international high-speed rail service, Eurostar. As part of the Eurostar and Thalys merger earlier this year, the rail company began operating as one single rail network connecting continental Europe, and the UK on high-speed direct and indirect routes. As part of this merger, the business decided to consolidate its media planning and buying via a competitive pitch. Alongside the existing Eurostar offline billings in the UK, Belgium and Netherlands and its European digital business, Wavemaker has additionally won the entire planning and buying remit across continental Europe. In a competitive pitch process which began in April 2023, Wavemaker will take over all activity from Q4 2023 for the new launch campaign, the first created by DDB/Adam & Eve. As part of an extended remit fuelled by the success to date of the existing UK team, Wavemaker will go beyond increasing sales and ensure Eurostar leads the Rail Renaissance. Changing continental Europe’s travel behaviour for good via a dual approach of sparking desire and simplifying the choice for train travellers. The media agency will manage the implementation of its unified strategy across markets, reflecting the local nuances and intricacies of each audience and route to deliver maximum effectiveness, while utilising performance expertise to drive greater efficiency.

The Famous Grouse has unveiled its brand-new global campaign, Full of Character, with a new TV advert premiering during ITV’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup semi-final between England and South Africa on Saturday 21st October and again during the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday 28th October. The UK’s no.1 whisky is back with a new global brand campaign for the first time in four years, which will roll out across 30 countries in November and December, including the brand’s key markets of the UK, Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. The Full of Character campaign seeks to introduce The Famous Grouse to the next generation of whisky consumers as the alcoholic beverage for any social occasion, whilst also educating them on the accessibility and mixability of the liquid. As a result, the Full of Character campaign will feature Gilbert, the iconic Famous Grouse himself, preparing to host a dinner party for family and friends. A distinctive part of the brand for over 100 years, this is the first TV creative to ever show the Famous Grouse in an at-home setting, following his adventures on curling stones and on top of a cliff. Following the Rugby World Cup final, the Full of Character campaign will roll-out globally, with TV and BVOD (Broadcaster Video on Demand) in selected markets, as well as a global digital and social media campaign. Various cuts of the advert will feature on YouTube within content relevant to the brand’s target audience. The Full of Character creative will also feature in-store and be available for on-trade outlets as part of a global refresh of brand assets. Point of Sale (POS) displays will hero the new campaign to maximise impact during a critical trading period. The Famous Grouse partnered with leading storytellers in the field of character animation for the Full of Character campaign. Creative agency Leith collaborated with Nexus, a BAFTA-winning Grammy and Academy Award-nominated studio, to produce the advert, while Paloma Baeza, who has previously won an Emmy for Best Character Animation, directed.