Sorokin Sees Carat Scoring With Digital

May 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Things haven’t gone smoothly since Aegis Media merged its traditional media-buying agency Carat with Carat Fusion, putting Sarah Fay and Scott Sorokin in charge of the new Carat as CEO and president, respectively.
Since July, there have been major account losses and the departure of two top Aegis Media executives.
But Mr. Sorokin remains convinced that Carat is better prepared for a world in which digital technology is changing the role of communications companies.
“I think we are heading in the right direction. I think we are really well-positioned. And I think in some cases, we’re a little ahead of the marketplace” in melding digital with the core of what the agency does, Mr. Sorokin said. “We knew we would make the change and we knew it would be followed almost immediately [by other agencies]. Of course that’s what’s happening.”
Mr. Sorokin says the agency is starting with a focus and a vision of what the future holds.
“It’s like hockey. You can’t play the puck. You have to play where the puck’s going to be. Great hockey players really anticipate,” said Mr. Sorokin, who never played the game. “And that’s really what’s fascinating about what we’re in the middle of. Everybody’s trying to guess where the future goes and what’s going to be there and what’s going to be important and what the focus is.”
Mr. Sorokin said digital has changed the way marketing is done. Instead of trying to hit a target with a message, digital adds a feedback loop to the communications process.
That means consumers are no longer spectators. “They’re actually involved in the game, and that’s a fundamental change in our business,” he said.
Where once ad agencies relied on 10-person focus groups or research panels of 10,000 consumers, “Now it’s millions and millions of people telling us what they’re interested in and what they want and what they’re looking for and what they’re searching for.”
Communications companies that can manage that data and understand the consumer insight it yields will become even more important to clients—and not just to their communications efforts, but to the features of the products and services they offer.
“Marketing is really about helping to present a better service or product. We can influence the service and products as well as market them better,” he said. “We’re understanding what consumers are looking for. I think every one of our clients are all looking for a consumer-centric approach to marketing communications.”
Born in South Philadelphia, Mr. Sorokin was a very good art student in high school, and also scored very high on his math aptitude exams. He decided to go to the University of Delaware to study engineering so he could make a living. He’d also had a high school art teacher who had been in the advertising business and didn’t admire its three-martini way of life.
“He did his best to keep me away from the advertising business,” Mr. Sorokin recalled.
At Delaware, he saw a presentation about visual communications and advertising and got hooked.
“I’ve lived a very interesting life in this industry,” Mr. Sorokin said. “I started as an art director.”
He interned at New York agency Homer & Durham and started full-time there before officially finishing school. It was so far before the digital age that he spent time literally cutting film for commercials there.
He moved to Marschalk, where he was an art director and creative director working on award-winning commercials for Sprite and Citibank.
He then moved to Grey, where he led one of the agency’s creative groups. He also organized two new businesses for Grey: an entertainment unit and Grey Interactive.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about where digital impact was going to be on the world. The world was changing rapidly,” he said. It was the late 1980s, and he recalled seeing the very first Web site for Rolling Stone.
Grey Interactive worked for Procter & Gamble and helped launch Dell.com as a business.
Mr. Sorokin moved to San Francisco, where he merged the offices of Modem Media and Digitas, then joined MRM Worldwide where he oversaw the global Intel account.
He was named president of Carat Fusion in 2006.
These days, Mr. Sorokin lives in Westchester, N.Y., with his wife and 15-year-old son. “He’s been my test pilot in emerging technology since he could use a keyboard and operate a mouse,” he said.
It’s not just the younger generation using technology. “My father’s using a cell phone. Mom’s on Facebook. The technology is disappearing and we take it for granted,” he said, meaning people just use the gadget without thinking about the technology that makes it work.
Mr. Sorokin likes taking his Rhodesian ridgeback for long walks in the open woods near where he lives.
He’s also a passionate movie fan. “You should go see ‘Iron Man,’” he recommends.
Who knew: Mr. Sorokin said if he wasn’t doing what he’s doing, he’d probably be a potter. “I love throwing clay and being very physical with my hands,” he said. He’s also restored two houses that are both more than 100 years old. “I wish I could be in a business that could be more physical, and here it is becoming much less physical,” he said.


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