This article was originally published by Adweek.
When Omnicom-owned Hearts & Science became AT&T’s media agency of record in 2016, the win was both an evolution of the telecom’s longstanding relationship with the world’s second-largest holding company and a huge $3 billion bet. Instead of spreading its media budget across a variety of agencies, AT&T was now placing its massive ad spend in just one place.
“It was kind of a referendum,” says Hearts & Science president Ralph Pardo. “On the agency model and even holding companies overall. You have a large company that said: ‘What I have now is not working.’”
Pardo’s vision for managing the account was to go experimental, placing a premium on hiring people with more technical backgrounds within the agency and balancing them with strategists that have a more “ambidextrous skill set.” Not only has his team assisted in the creation and placement of TV spots—sometimes using data to optimize and adjust the spots as often as every three to four weeks—they’ve also improved the quality of data by cutting out extraneous sources to make ad targeting more efficient and effective. (An ongoing audit of AT&T’s data providers helped Hearts & Science learn that some audiences were “quite redundant.”)
An Omnicom vet who previously led the Time Warner business, Pardo was hired in 2016 to lead Hearts & Science’s new cross-agency team made up of media, creative, strategy and analytics professionals, many of whom were plucked from sibling agencies. The team is now comprised of some 500 members while the shop has expanded from two offices in New York to locations in Mexico, the U.K., Germany, Dubai and Japan.
“Hearts & Science is all about pioneering the future of how brands and people connect,” says Hearts & Science CEO Scott Hagedorn, “which also means pioneering a new way that marketing disciplines work together to build those connections. Ralph excels in managing and advancing both sides of this two-front revolution to drive business results for our clients.”