Brand partnership is the new rising star. We are seeing more and more brands forging into partnerships to quantum leap their growth and exchange value. The Brandberries interviewed Anas Ghazi, CEO of WPP’s Data Alliance, to get his insights on how to unlock the power of brand partnerships.

BB: WPP’s Data Alliance has been heavily involved in partnerships, Spotify and Factual to name a few.  In your opinion, how can brand partnerships empower global audiences?

AG: Brand partnerships provide WPP agencies and clients with the opportunity to understand unique audience motivators, behaviors, and affinities at scale.  Year to date, our global branded data partnerships with Twitter, Facebook, Spotify and the like, have empowered us to explore the complexity of human behavior. Our world is not a “one size fits all” environment; in today’s market, you must understand your audience the way you understand your best friend. In reaching and understanding an audience, a brand must create a strong context, be suggestive and simultaneously quantify the influence their campaign has had in motivating a call to action. Data and brand partnerships allow us to do both.

By connecting all of WPP’s data driven capabilities and products with those of our strategic partners, Data Alliance has uncovered and measured predictive behaviors and aspirational goals of audiences from Delhi to Dublin.  With a client centric view, our brand partnerships have been instrumental in

Anas Ghazi, CEO, WPP’s Data Alliance

providing a nuanced global value in every aspect of the audience’s journey, from insights to planning, and activation to measurement.

Knowing that people are different, and that motivations range from one part of the world to the next, we have leveraged data as a common medium in all of our partnerships. WPP’s data driven assets and solutions, in combination with our branded partners, helps us connect clients with audiences through relevant life experiences from Rakhsa Bandhan in India, to Eid in England to FIFA in Russia.

BB: Are Brand partnerships an all-time success recipe?

AG: There are three core components to make any partnership successful, be it brand-based or personal.

First and foremost, it’s the people who are composing the partnership. Often, we come to the table with a blank piece of paper, and crafting a partnership is an artistic process in which the artists (people) matter. Are they nice (an underrated quality that is a total competitive advantage)?  Are they respectful?  Are they authentic and true to their word?  Do they have grit? Are they bringing a diverse mindset to the table? These attributes are like colors in a painter’s palette–the more you have, the more vibrant and moving the final expression. All of these attributes are important factors to consider, because this upfront equity will be needed to see a partnership to fruition and beyond.

Second, a mutual desire for value creation.  I’ve been in situations where the desire is for a tactical relationship and frankly, that is not a fit for us.  From a WPP Data Alliance perspective, we are looking to effect change across the big picture. We want partnerships that drive value across each discipline of the Group by creating innovative data products and services that essentially help us understand an element of human behavior that has yet to be explored.

Third, but not least, you have to have a joint vision of what success looks like with mutual benefits for all involved.  Any partnership needs KPI’s that you can measure, track, and tweak based on market conditions.

BB: What’s up and coming with WPP’s Data Alliance?

AG: Since the inception of WPP’s Data Alliance, we have had the mantra: ‘data is a universal language,’ and our goal has been to help the Group become fluent. Over the last several years, we’ve developed dozens of multifaceted data partnerships, helping the Group’s clients connect with their audiences. Additionally, we’ve launched operations across EMEA and Asia to address regional client needs and have upskilled our global client teams in ‘data speak’.

With a continued client and partner centric mindset, we’re going to do more of what we’ve been doing. We’re going to continue to make tools available to our global teams, to infuse data driven decision making into insights, planning and strategies across the Group’s various disciplines.

A core tenant of DA is simplicity and collaboration, especially when it comes to bringing the best of WPP to our clients.  Over the last year, our teams, most notably Data Alliance in the United Kingdom, have worked with automotive, CPG and healthcare clients to streamline access to the Group, bringing forward easy and accessible data innovation to our clients. We’re looking to expand this further.

The innovation markets out East continue to be of focus. I call the teams in the innovation markets MacGyver. You can literally give them a piece of string, chewing gum and a hanger and they can fix the world’s problems because they are so entrepreneurial in spirit, have a glass full approach, and are willing to get the job done. Our DA teams in India and Indonesia have done a fantastic job in driving regional partnerships in the e-commerce and mobile space, and we are looking to build further into those realms.  From a global data partnerships perspective, I’d say we’ve got data, relevance, and content on our minds…stay tuned more to come on that one!