Mélanie Dunn becomes head of Cossette Montreal

On Friday morning, Cossette named Mélanie Dunn executive vice-president and managing director of its Montreal office.

On Friday morning, Cossette named Mélanie Dunn executive vice-president and managing director of its Montreal office.

For the past four years, Dunn managed Blitz, Cossette’s former relationship marketing and promotions unit that was integrated under Cossette’s new Vision7 platform in November.

Dunn spoke with Marketing QC’s Caroline Fortin about her new role in Cossette’s recently renovated operations.

After 10 years with the company, where do you see Cossette today and where would you like to lead it?

As an agency, we always ask ourselves what keeps our clients up at night, and in 2011, it is the fact that the playing field has become a moving target. What works today will not necessarily work tomorrow. Means of communications can be pertinent one day, and outdated the next. Consequently, we are managing a constant risk. This requires agility and instinct on our part. In this context, there is also the need to integrate all communications and to have a consistent brand. The channels become muddled and the consumer constantly receives messages on different platforms, in real time. The time when we used to create a communication plan for a year is past. We are on high alert every day.

Cossette has been reflecting on its model for some time and my first objective is to ensure that it serves our clients well. We want to build our talents around each client. Each one will have a senior team to meet their needs. Depending on the volume we need to manage, these teams can be specialised or combined. For example, with Aeroplan we created a team that meets all the company’s challenges and needs. We could also be able to serve two clients with the same team, if their needs are similar. However, the world of agencies, just like the world of communications, is ever-changing. My mission is to make sure this model is not a constraint but rather that it evolves, adapts to the new channels. We may very well need new expertise tomorrow. Beyond this, we wish to continue to offer all the expertise our clients need, ensure an innovative vision, and be flexible, all in real time.

When Claude Lessard finalized the acquisition by Mill Road, he stated that one of Cossette’s objectives would be to refocus on creation. What does this mean?

We recruited new talent last year and one of the first things we did was unify all the creative teams who now work by client group. Before, we had forums of experts on relationship marketing, mass advertising and design who were in contact and created platforms together. Now, everyone works together. Our consulting and strategy teams work the same way.

One year after the purchase by Mill Road, what has changed in day-to-day operations?

Mill Road are extraordinary partners. They enabled us to bring the agency back to a private model. This partnership was built on the foundations of the strategic plan presented by Cossette. They wanted us to keep the executive in place, they gave us a vote of confidence and the list goes on. They support us in every way imaginable, but they are not involved in operations.

Was it Cossette’s decision to appoint someone within to head the Montreal office?

The executive vice-president (Dominique Lebel) left almost nine months ago. We were lucky to get Gregor Angus to manage the office. He did it full-time and started implementing our new structure, which allowed us to conduct an exhaustive search within and outside of the company. A few weeks ago, we arrived at the solution we thought was best: naming someone from the agency.

Finally, on a more personal level, is becoming head of one of the 25 largest agencies in the world overwhelming or exhilarating?

It is both. It’s exhilarating because I strongly believe in this company. I backed its values and strategic plan, and I am certain that I can contribute. It is overwhelming because I have a responsibility to a lot of people and clients, but the management team is incredible and involved. I plan on sharing my responsibility with my team. This is also the key to attaining balance. You need to be able to rely on your colleagues and put in place a collaborative management.

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