This young director is helping one of the world's biggest media agencies to engage with startups

MEC innovation director Hannah BlakeMECMEC open innovation director, Hannah Blake.

A director at one of the world’s biggest media agencies has been announced as the leader of a new innovation division that will aim to get companies like Transport for London and Netflix to engage with startups more effectively.

Hannah Blake, a 26-year-old open innovation director at WPP-owned MEC UK, will head up the new “MEC Tonic” group, the company announced on its website this week.

MEC Tonic will aim to pair up brands like B&Q, Danone, Compare the Market and Renault, with adtech (advertising technology) and media tech startups.

MEC helps large brands with their media buying and media planning but as the media landscape has become more complex it has diversified its capabilities. Today, the London-headquartered company boasts annual turnovers of £850 million and approximately 5,000 employees worldwide.

Blake believes that many of today’s biggest brands are failing to tap into what startups have to offer.

“There is a growing ecosystem of support and mentoring for startups but very little exists to educate and challenge established companies on working with emerging technology,” said Blake, who previously helped BBC Worldwide to engage with young digital companies through the BBC “Labs” startup programme. “Brands need to work faster, take risks, allocate budget and dedicate resource if they want to deliver innovation successfully.”

MEC hopes that MEC Tonic will help brands transform their marketing operations by getting them to “use emerging technology at the points in the customer journey that have the biggest impact on purchase decisions.”

The new division is already working with a portfolio of UK startups including Seenit, an app that allows users to launch video-filming campaigns, and Rezonence, which has an advertising platform that asks online media consumers to unlock the content they intend to read by interacting with an ad, for example, by answering a simple question based on the content of the ads. Blake knows both of these startups from her days at BBC Labs.

MEC joint-CEO Jason Dormieux said: “Technology continues to disrupt client marketing strategies. For brands to be on the front foot we need to take innovation via new companies and business models seriously. We’re excited by MEC Tonic’s new approach to delivering growth for our clients and our industry.”

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