CMO Talks: Agency Partnerships with David Jaye of The Weather Company

In our first of two talks with David Jaye, the Chief Marketing Officer of The Weather Company, Brian Regienczuk, Agency Spotter’s CEO, discusses Jaye’s work on the advertising agency side of the business and his transition to being a client. What is agency life like and how did it prepare you for the rest or your career?

Part 1: A conversation with David Jaye, CMO of The Weather Company, An IBM Brand

Watch Part 2: Solutions Brands, IoT, Big Data

Intro: David Jaye has held Senior Marketing roles at agencies like Digitas, Wunderman, and OgilvyOne. He has served as the head of creative agency partnerships at Google, and currently he overseas marketing and creative expression for the world’s largest private weather enterprise, delivering more the 30 billion individual forecasts daily to 2.2 billion locations. With the top app on all major mobile platforms globally, and the 7th most data rich website in the world. I’m happy to have David Jaye, CMO of The Weather Company.

Brian: I wanted to start with asking you a little bit about how has working on both the agency side and the brand side prepared you for becoming a CMO?

David: I think for me, it was about two different phases of my career. I think agency life particularly when I was in it, which was around the ’90s, 2000, was really about the emergence of digital and data-driven targeting, so the direct response and the beginning of segmentation.

It was really interesting because the agencies were already transforming, and so people that were literate early in digital were able to get exposure and be able to progress through the ranks incredibly quickly. The amount of exposure to the projects and the scope of the projects that I was given at a very early stage of my career was quite amazing.

Being able to do the agency world enabled me to both, number one, travel the world; and number two, get exposed to so many different businesses. Because I’ve had such a breadth of experience that was really enabled by the agency, the amount of assignments I had while rising through the ranks of the agency and also the complexity of the questions being asked for us to answer. It really gave an incredibly broad base and also a fundamental confidence in my ability to learn.

Brian: It’s an interesting perspective. I like it. Can you tell us a little bit more about the role you actually have before being a CMO?

David: I was working for Google, but the thing that’s interesting about Google is I think I’m the only person who’s ever hired by Google who previously had been running a burrito cart in the middle of Sweden for three years.

With Google, my role was to figure out the go-to-market strategy of how, looking at the agency landscape, how could Google provide services on behalf of their biggest clients. An example would be if Honda is one of the biggest clients and a particular agency is leading that relationship, what my team’s responsibility was to work with that agency, looking at not just our ad products but looking across the portfolio of all of Google products and being able to say, “Okay. How does that layer up into a solution?”

For me, it was a fantastic way to enter back into the marketplace because I was one of the few people within Google who had a purview over everything within Google.

Brian: You’ve worked either at or with agencies for a number of years, what are the most rewarding things about working with agencies or agency life?

David: I think from an agency world perspective, it gives you a breadth of experience that’s very difficult to replicate on the client side. I worked for a lot of different agencies, and in doing so, I’ve been able to travel the world.

My wife is Swedish. I lived in London for five years. I lived in France for a year. I think from that standpoint, it was incredibly both interesting and really compelling in the sense that it gave you both the exposure to go out and see the world and see different cultures and context.

From a skill set standpoint, you get a very good understanding of all the components. I think the exposure to various business models and various business problems, all marketing related, really give you quite a broad tool set to use and choose from as you advance in your career.

Brian: In terms of The Weather Company, how do you use agencies today?

David: I feel very strongly that internal organizations, marketing organizations need to own the ability of telling their story. You can’t farm out your positioning.

We have a creative group, internally. What we do is make sure that we establish: What’s the brand architecture? Or, what’s the overall brand narrative? How does that cross all our portfolio of products? And, then based around that, we use specific agencies for various campaigns. We’re a little laser-focused in the sense of which agencies we’ll use for various specific campaigns.

Brian: Do you have any advice for brand leaders who are trying to build weather agency partnerships?

David: I think they have to lean in.

Right now, one of the biggest initiatives that we currently are doing is we are looking at our overall brand architecture. If you look, we are The Weather Company or The Weather Channel, Weather Underground and now we’re recently owned by IBM.

When you start considering our global ambitions, which are really to go global and drive a billion to a billion users, we’re currently at around 250 million users. A substantial amount of our growth is going to come globally. One of the challenges is The Weather Channel doesn’t translate into multiple languages. Also, the relevancy isn’t the same iconic resonance that you have here in the U.S. Part of what we’ve got to be reconsidering is how do we need to evolve our story to encompass all those dimensions.

The advice is, for marketers, you only get what you put in. If you kick it over the fence, expect it to be kicked back. Okay? If you lean in and you say, “Hey, agency. This truly is a partnership.

In that, hopefully, we’ll get the best solution and the agency gets the best partnership because there’s a transparency around also the reality, even in our business. Part of that happens early on in our agency relationships is everyone is taking a guess. What you do is the tension tends to come as reality starts affecting that guess. When you’re trying to sell in on the agency side, you’ll always err towards the side of, ‘Oh, it will be fine.’ On the client side, you’re like, ‘Well, I don’t understand what those fees are,’ and yet there’s no working in between. That would be the big thing, to lean in.

Brian Regienczuk
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