Alison Weissbrot
May 13, 2021

DDB reveals global 'Unexpected Works' repositioning

The global network revealed the new positioning on a billboard in a sheep farm in New Zealand

DDB reveals global 'Unexpected Works' repositioning

DDB, the global Omnicom creative agency network, is revealing its new brand positioning with an unexpected ad campaign.

The agency bought a billboard on a sheep farm in Garston, New Zealand, to start a conversation about its new brand promise: “Unexpected Works.” The billboard includes a call to action to visit, where people can read DDB’s manifesto and the story behind the Unexpected Works philosophy.

The idea is to get a global conversation going about how DDB approaches creativity with which its 10,000 employees across the world can connect.

“We weren't really looking for a campaign or tagline for DDB,” said DDB Worldwide CEO Marty O’Halloran. “It was more, what's going to bring us together and reinforces what we believe as an agency?”

O’Halloran passed along the brief to DDB Worldwide chief creative officer Ari Weiss and chief strategy officer Alex Hesz, with the goal of highlighting the connection between creativity and effectiveness — and DDB’s unique ability to deliver on it through unexpected thinking.

“Safe ideas are not what the world needs right now,” Hesz said. “The world needs the unexpected — ideas that disrupt and go against the grain. Those are going to be the ideas that work and transform business. We wanted an idea that described DDB, but also answered preemptively what the industry is asking.”

The campaign, which was planned and developed by teams across DDB’s global markets, also aims to serve as a rallying cry for the network, which operates on a federated model. While the network will continue to operate that way, having a north star “simplifies our point of view in the world” and “finds the common ground we all share,” Weiss said.

“When you do that, you get to share knowledge between these great federalist entities that usually exist in silos,” he said.

The New Zealand billboard is just the beginning of the conversation. DDB hopes the unexpected media placement generates buzz across its offices and the industry to show off the type of work it can do for clients. DDB is also asking its regional agencies to take their own spin on the campaign to bring it life in locally relevant ways.

“We want to show that something quite small, simple and understated, placed in one of the worst places you can possibly place it, can have a huge effect or create a conversation we want it to have,” Weiss said. “It's something to talk about, share and be curious about.”

The campaign and manifesto is more than a one-off stunt, but part of a larger business plan under O’Halloran, who came on as CEO in July, to modernize the network’s offering while emphasizing the connection between creativity and business results. Under his leadership, DDB is looking to attract new types of talent and work more closely with the Omnicom network to tap into different areas of expertise clients demand.

“I look at my role as a coach to bring businesses and people together,” he said. “I want more global clients who see what we're doing and get excited about what we believe in.”

It’s also the right timing to get DDB’s name front of mind, as the industry starts to rebound from COVID-19.

“It's a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Hesz said. “All the puzzle pieces have been thrown in the air and landed, and you have to reassemble them once. We understand the potential of this moment in terms of permission for change, but also the need to actually deliver change and disruption.”

(This article first appeared on

Campaign India

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