Celebrity client interview

Aki Martin // Oct 8 // Culture



Agency account executives have the very special privilege of holding client relationships in their hands. At i.d.e.a. we refer to our clients as “brand partners”, and our role in the brand management department is to develop, maintain and nurture those relationships in order to set the stage for ground-breaking and inspired creative work.

One such brand partner, that I've recently had the chance to work with, is Dennis Wakabayashi, Global CRM and Social Strategist for Mary Kay. Dennis not only works for an iconic, global brand that has transformed the lives of women around the world, he is also an avid blogger and has an impressive following on Twitter. I had a chance to interview him recently after completing our first project together.

Aki Martin: So, this is your first year at Mary Kay. What did you know about the company before you took the job?

Dennis Wakabayashi: I knew they were a brand with inspirational values that delivered beauty products and opportunity for women globally.

AM: What do you know now that is different from your perceived impression?

DW: Since joining the global team, I’ve been exposed to the happiness that the brand brings to women and families. As it turns out, it’s not just about beauty or opportunity. Working with Mary Kay transforms lives in positive ways.

AM: You were an agency guy before, and now you're working on the client side. What's the biggest challenge, and biggest reward, of being on the other side?

DW: The biggest challenge is harnessing all of the internal momentum that a company has to offer any corporate marketing program. For instance, at Mary Kay there are smart folks working at every level of the company who contribute good ideas in all areas of marketing. In many cases, the “big idea” has been incubating for quite a while before my team has a chance to work on it. So, we work hard to recognize all of the effort that led up to our involvement. In spite of my best intentions, however, I always feel like we may have failed to recognize someone’s contribution that made it all truly possible.

The biggest reward for me personally is the opportunity to work with global leaders. Our brand has many inspiring people who I continuously learn from. And likewise, I get to rub shoulders with global leaders from other brands. I’m very lucky.

AM: Lucky indeed. Now that you've experienced both the agency and the client side of the business, in your mind, what’s the secret to a successful agency/brand partner relationship?

DW: Mutual respect. Balancing the power of the brand and the catalyst that comes from an agency (when done right), can earn significant results for everyone involved.

AM: Given your digital strategy prowess, what is the most effective and relevant social media platform right now?

DW: It’s still websites. Content is still king and engagement is still queen. Responsively designed webpages that dynamically drive the user experience will greatly impact the extent of how that content is shared, which has the potential to increase our global intelligence, sense of community or livelihood. It's the best we can all hope to accomplish with marketing technologies.

AM: What are three things you’re looking forward to doing (at your job or in life in general) in 2015?

DW: In 2015, I’d like to see Marketing Automation enrich the experiences people have with our brand on a global level and on a 1-to-1 basis. On a personal note, I’d like to take some time to settle in to our new home in Dallas and spend a little more time with the family.

AM: Amen to that! Now for the last question that everyone would like to know... What does your last name mean?

DW: Young Forest. Which I like to think of as 'Forever Young' in western interpretation.

AM: Any final thoughts to share?

DW: Thank you for the chance to contribute to your blog. It’s been a pleasure to work alongside your team. I hope to do more great things in the future!

AM: Thank YOU, Dennis! We hope so too.

For more digital insights from Dennis, follow him on twitter @dwakabayashi.


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