Marco Rimini started his career in 1985, working in creative agencies as an account planner, eventually becoming the head of account planning at Euro RSCG.
In 1995, true to the "Pioneer" descriptor in The Economist's Ideas People questionnaire, he became one of the first account planners to work in media. He became the head of strategic planning and the vice-chairman at CIA Media Network. Never one to sit still, he went to JWT in 1999 to become the head of strategy across local and international clients including HSBC, Vodafone and Kraft.
Rimini joined Mindshare in July 2006 to develop the communications planning practice. His aim? To reunite the established craft skills of account and media planning and applying them to the digital age. Here's how he rises to that considerable challenge.
- Tell us about your inspiration.
I steal all my ideas. These are good jobs to have because we are paid to bring the outside world into the business world. So that's where my ideas come from and that's where I try to spend my time. Almost any aspect of the real world can be inspirational, but as I get older I have to work harder at not being completely cocooned in a North London middle-class executive existence so I do the usual stuff of reading widely across art, science, pop culture etc but also by listening as much as possible to people that live in a different world to me. I find a good exercise is to copy the media habits of someone you are trying to understand. It gives you a feel for how they are being talked to by the media industry. I even listen to researchers sometimes.
- How do you make your working environment work for you?
Open plan, open access, long-haul trips for reading and sightseeing, Vespa to and from work for unwinding, Arsenal News Review for displacement activity, coffee, abuse from desk neighbours, staring at Nelson's Column (no really) for inspiration, company bar for interviewing, lots of books, paper in piles by project.
- How do you turn a good idea into a great one?
- How do you unstick an idea when it's stuck?
Talk to someone who has no interest in the account or problem. They won't solve it for you, but explaining it will help you solve it yourself.
- Give us a real example of how you came up with a good idea.
We had to warm up the market for the launch of a car company (Daewoo) in the 90s, but the cars didn't arrive for six months and we didn't want to run corporate nonsense or show something we didn't have. I had been working with Channel 4 on the then newish DRTV market and so I put together what I knew about DRTV with Daewoo's desire to be customer centric in its dealerships to create (with DFGW) the Daewoo Dialogue. This was the first example of what became known as brand response TV.
- Great ideas are often so risky that frequently they are hacked to pieces. What's your advice for nurturing a gem and selling it to a client?
Great marketing ideas shouldn't be risky. Great ideas get lost because the agency thinks that risky is equivalent to great and then the fights start. Great ideas most often get lost in translation from the author's pen to the client's head. So I spend a lot of time trying to communicate the idea in the language of the client and the customer, not the language of the creator. It's the application of marketing to the presentation of an idea.
- What are your creative trade secrets?
Arbitraging ideas is a good shortcut. Taking an undervalued idea and applying it in a different sector, geographies, audience, or from another discipline into ours can work well. Think politics and focus groups. Or maybe not. Current favourite arbitrages are behavioural economics and data visualisation.
- Tell us about a turning point in your career.
Mid-90s I came back from getting an MBA in Milan to find a job in London and decided that media was the future. I fell into CIA when the media independent sector was still thriving.
We won business, we made money for our company and clients, we choose carpet tiles and designed floor layouts, pulled off new-business stunts, had ideas without a creative department, provided analysis without account planners and found out about the business of the business. We got caught out by taking our eye off the TV deals and overpromising. We could have done everything better, but it gave me the confidence to step outside of the narrow pathways of account planning and follow what I found interesting. That's why I'm back in media now.
- Name the most inspiring person in your working life.
Jeremy Bullmore, for his intelligence, humanity and longevity. Nick Emery (the chief strategy officer for Group M and Mindshare Worldwide) for his patience, diplomacy and good humour.
- You have 24 hours away from professional responsibilities and a brief to re-energise yourself. What will you do?
Lie in, full English at a cafe in Parkway, British Museum, Orso's for lunch, go-kart racing at Daytona Shepherd's Bush, bedtime stories, the Emirates for Arsenal against Spurs.
- What motivates you?
I want to be right and one day I will be.
- What idea should we be taking more seriously?
TAKE THE TEST
The Ideas People is drawn from major research conducted by The Economist in 2007. It's built on essential truths about the world we live in and The Economist's readership. One is that ideas, not products, are the currency of the modern economy. Another is that Ideas People are the stars of the 21st century. They produce and implement new thinking, they influence others, they have stamina. They are turned on by new ideas and opportunities. Are you an Ideas Person? Go to the quiz at www.theideaspeople.economist.com and find out for yourself.
Marco Rimini is a ... Pioneer Catalyst Builder.