Media Headliner: Rimini blends creative and media at MindShare

The outgoing JWT director of strategy has a vision of a more flexible, open media agency, Darren Davidson writes.

If Marco Rimini is feeling daunted about making the leap from a creative agency to the media side of the fence after nine years at JWT, he betrays no sign of it.

The JWT director of strategy, who is set to land at JWT's sister media agency MindShare as the worldwide head of communications planning, is feeling philosophical and upbeat about his new role. As he says: "I'm suitably humble in acknowledging my gaps.

But equally, I'll bring an outside perspective. And sometimes not knowing all of the information can be a good thing because you will take more imaginative leaps."

Rimini does have some experience of media. Before his time at JWT, he spent three years at the former media independent CIA Medianetwork, where he held various positions including that of vice-chairman. This followed 18 months in Italy, where Rimini's family has its own vineyard and he got close to his "roots" while studying for an MBA.

Rimini's career at JWT suggests that he's always been interested in integrating media ideas into the creative process. Three years ago, he was involved in an unsuccessful attempt to buy the planning consultancy Unity, launched by Ivan Pollard, Derek Morris and Andy Tilley. He also admits that, during his time at JWT, there were discussions with Naked Communications and Michaelides & Bednash about similar deals.

So, having worked in both the media and creative planning worlds, what does Rimini consider to be the biggest differences? "They're both about ideas, but the creative department is a very different animal to the media buying department. In the one department, you are creating something through buying and, in the other, through making. In reality, you need to get the creative people together with the planners in order to give them food for thought. Creative people love hearing about interesting, new, different, imaginative media ideas. It helps spark their creative juices."

There's more to such an interchange than meets the eye, Rimini points out. For, while he admits media agencies can be "a little too brutal" when it comes to allowing creative ideas to grow and blossom, he argues that creative agencies can too easily lose sight of the importance of the commercial imperative and return on investment.

Rimini's newly created role at MindShare will focus on creating some harmony between the creative and media planning disciplines. His remit will be to develop MindShare's planning tools and its relationships with creative agencies to help deliver idea-led communication plans for the WPP-owned agency's clients.

He says: "What I hope we can offer WPP or create is a good intelligent media perspective. I think MindShare should be an open company that is porous, not some sort of hermetically sealed organisation, like a tanker ploughing through the ocean. It should be a flotilla of boats zipping in and out of ad agencies, research companies and design agencies."

Rimini concedes that MindShare is already half-way there with its House of Media structure and says that his role will be to push the idea a little bit further. He says: "We need to get away from this idea that the companies are big, iron-clad monsters shooting at each other."

Rimini will report to MindShare Worldwide's chief strategy officer, Nick Emery. It's a bit of a twist of fate, since, 12 years ago while at CIA, Rimini made an unsuccessful attempt to hire Emery. Emery says one of Rimini's most important tasks will be to "coach" MindShare's planning teams, a job Rimini says he is looking forward to. Although he lists his part in WPP's £350 million HSBC win as one of his proudest moments at JWT, he considers his work training the agency's young planning teams and "building their careers" to be an equally valuable contribution.

JWT's UK executive chairman, Toby Hoare, says he's unsurprised that Rimini is hungry for a new challenge at a media agency: "It's where he started, so in a sense he's going back to territory he certainly knows and understands quite well. It's a job he will do well in an environment in which he will feel comfortable."

Although Hoare is sorry to lose one of the agency's key players, he says it is a "win-win situation for WPP to have an all-round communications expert". Rimini says he was attracted to the role because MindShare has "gone a long way to making the House of Media offering really happen and the next stage is to get more involved in the development of the idea".

He feels that creative agencies are "crying out for people to help them at an early stage from a media point of view and so are clients". He adds that he was also impressed with MindShare's portfolio of clients, which includes Nike and Unilever, and believes his experience of working with JWT's clients will smooth his transition to a media role.

Rimini is evangelical about his attempts to explore the synergies between the media and creative planning processes. His enthusiasm, honesty and determination will undoubtedly be an asset to MindShare and its clients.

He concludes: "I don't change my views according to the companies I work at. I feel pretty consistent in my opinions. And I'll try to achieve the same thing at MindShare, which is really good at integrated ideas for clients. That's still what clients want."

Age: 43
Lives: Dartmouth Park, London
Family: Wife, Suzanne, and children, Lucia, Emilio and Clara
Most treasured possession: Vespa
Favourite brand: John Lewis
Media diet: The Today programme, The Guardian and Sky Sports
Interests: Arsenal Football Club (he is a season ticket holder),
children and family vineyard in Italy