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William Rosen Takes the Stage at FUSE


Every year, FUSE draws together designers, brand strategists, innovators and insight leaders across industries to celebrate the power and impact of design.

This year, our very own William Rosen, Partner, Marketing Practice Lead, will be talking about the present challenging economic conditions and digital platforms that are driving substantial shifts in the world of marketing and branding. William has built VSA’s marketing practice on the belief that uniting data science with creativity to design cross-channel, human-centered experience is the best way to create value and drive business results.

With three days left before taking the stage, we decided to sit down and ask William a few insider questions.

Q: Tell us a little about your topic and presentation. What can people expect or hope that they take away?

A: My presentation at FUSE is entitled, “How to Move from Building Brands to Building Business by Inspiring Action.” The focus is on brand activation—how to fully realize a brand’s potential by moving beyond simply projecting what a brand “is” to optimizing what a brand “does” to drive engagement and measurably change behavior. My hope is to provide a construct for modern marketers, brand strategists and design thinkers to align the currently fragmented marketing disciplines—from shopper, mobile, experiential and direct to eCommerce, social media, sponsorships and broadcast advertising—into truly human centered experiences designed to create value for all involved.

Q: In your talk, you speak about the need for brands to focus on “Work that Works.” Can you elaborate on this?

A: At their core, marketing and design thinking are both focused on trying to solve real problems with the most effective and efficient human-centered solutions possible. In an increasingly complex, cross-channel world, it is important to keep our thinking and discussions focused on the real challenge: namely, how new technologies, capabilities, innovations and data can be employed to develop the most effective solutions within a given set of parameters. Maintaining that focus can be incredibly clarifying.

Q: You make the argument that in order for marketers to maximize ROI, they need to adopt the notion of “building brand & building business.” Why is that crucial, especially today?

A: There is simply no reason that a so-called “business-building” effort should denigrate the brand, or that a “brand building” effort should not be held accountable for delivering some measurable benefit to the business. Very few marketers have the luxury of being that inefficient. Clearly every effort has its own unique set of goals or ways that the brand is planning to measure success, but when a marketer has a clear understanding of what their brand is and stands for, as well as real insight into what their target consumers value, they can deliver experiences that authentically manifest the brand while activating behaviors that move consumers closer to transaction.

Q: Talk to us a little bit about the role of design, or design thinking, in all of this.

A: Optimal, cross-channel experiences are by their very nature, human centered, which is at the heart of design and design thinking. Today, however, designers and marketers have the opportunity to leverage more than their innate empathy and intuition regarding human needs and desires. They have mountains of data about what real people do, want and experience, and the technology platforms to deliver exactly what people want when and where they want it. The opportunity is to design the experiences that real people truly value, which is where design thinking and modern marketing intersect.

Q: In a time when personalization and one-to-one marketing is so crucial, how are brands doing this well or not so well?

A: It all comes back to creating value for people. If one-to-one marketing is intrusive or irrelevant, there is no value. If it leverages personalization to make sure that each engagement truly enhances each person’s unique experiences by knowing what might be helpful when and providing value in the way it is desired, then it can build real affinity and receptivity to future engagement.

Q: Speaking at FUSE is pretty exciting. Let us get inside your head a bit—what are you most excited about?

A: I am so looking forward to being surrounded by a group of industry leaders who understand that the future of modern marketing, branding and design are intertwined. Plus, it’s in Miami.


William Rosen leads VSA Partners’ marketing practice, overseeing advertising and marketing efforts for clients including AB InBev, Beam Suntory and Kimberly-Clark. Prior, William was president and chief creative officer of North America for Arc Worldwide, the global marketing company and part of Leo Burnett Worldwide and the Publicis Group. He led digital, direct/CRM, promotion and shopper/retail marketing for clients including McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Nestlé Purina, Walgreens, United Airlines, Whirlpool and MillerCoors. He has been recognized more than 300 times with major creative awards around the world and served as president of the jury at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.