Logo

Hess Bring Numbers to Bear at Carat

Feb 25, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Mike Hess thinks of himself as a well-rounded guy who just happens to have a passion for data analytics.
This month, Mr. Hess joined Carat from OMD, where he was global research director for five years.
As executive VP for research, marketing science and consumer insights at Carat, he expects to focus on the consumer while getting more involved in the digital side of the business.
“All the data that’s available on the digital side kind of reminds me of 20 years ago, when scanner data first became available by Nielsen and by IRI. With all that data out there, it kind of led to a new era in our understanding,” he says. “I kind of hope to bring that background in analytics and stats to the digital area as well.”
Mr. Hess says he specializes in applying advanced multivariate statistics, regression analysis and cluster analyses to problems.
He discovered his facility with statistics with a Jesuit professor at Loyola University in Chicago, where he majored in psychology.
Mr. Hess also wrote for the college paper, and thus gained experience finding the words he needed to describe what his numbers told him.
Colleagues at marketing companies credited his approach to helping find “bulletproof” ways of quantifying the value of the ideas they came up with for skeptical clients.
“I like to consider myself holistic in that the statistical work is definitely left-brain stuff, but being a marketing person, I really have the respect for right-brain stuff. What I try to do is to kind of quantify what good right-brain thinkers come up with,” he says.
He went to graduate school at Columbia University in New York, where he discovered a love for the advertising business.
“I was able to find a job through the New York Times working as a brand assistant for a brand called Propa PH lotion, which was an acne lotion that kind of competed against Clearasil and Stridex,” he says.
He decided to go to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School for an MBA rather than pursuing a Ph.D. at Columbia. He took a summer job working for Pfizer, tracking a statistical project for one of his professors.
While in grad school, he also tried applying his knowledge of statistics to horseracing, spending days at Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell Park race track. He used 300 race variables and found he was picking winners 7% more often than the straight pari-mutuel odds would suggest. Unfortunately, with the state taking 17% of his winnings off the top, he still wasn’t able to make money.
He thinks he could have refined his system to improve his winning percentage to 10% or 12%, “but I’m not convinced over the long run people do make a living” picking horses.
That meant he needed a day job, so after completing his degree he went into brand management, working on Windex glass cleaner for Drackett. After two and a half years there, he decided to get back into research.
His first stop was Burke Marketing Research, where he became part of its Basis new-product forecasting division. During his run at Burke he returned home to Chicago to help open an office there for Basis.
He was recruited by venture capital startup View Facts, which used set-top boxes, to do single-source research. The boxes also could be used to survey participating homes. One such survey correctly indicated that Richard J. Daley would be elected mayor of Chicago.
Mr. Hess moved on to IRI and headed its testing business for six years before joining Clorox in the San Francisco area, where he started the company on marketing mix modeling. He returned to the Midwest with Knowledge Network’s PDI unit, where he continued to work in the area of marketing mix modeling. There his team figured out a way to compute the long-term effect of advertising, which became the basis of a book, “Short- and Long-Term Effects of Advertising and Promotion.”
After three years with IRI, Mr. Hess moved to Elrick & Lavidge in Chicago, which later was acquired by TNS.
Five years ago he was recruited to move to New York by OMD. He’s found he enjoys life at a media agency.
“There’s almost a different set of challenges every day,” he says. “Your main task is to take the great creative that your creative partners have come up with and try to put it in the right channel at the right time when people are most likely to actually consume that media, so it’s definitely been fun.”
Mr. Hess moved to the United States from Austria with his family when he was 5 years old. He spoke only German when he started kindergarten in Chicago.
He grew up within walking distance of Wrigley Field and remains a Chicago Cubs fan. His parents still live near the ballpark, and he says he timed a drive during a recent visit so that he could see fans gathering for the Winter Classic hockey game at Wrigley on New Year’s Day.
At home, Mr. Hess is kept busy by three teenagers, two boys and a girl. The family last week vacationed in Captiva Island in Florida.
After learning German in college, Mr. Hess has picked up a number of other languages, including Spanish. He also reads French.
“I like anything that has a structure to it,” he says. “Statistics does, and psychology and language obviously have a structure.”
Mr. Hess is also a bridge player, but since moving to New York, he does most of his playing online. A Silver Life Master, Mr. Hess has been asked by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to join their game on occasion.
He says the billionaires are looking for players who are both competent and polite.
“If Bill Gates were to make a mistake, you’re not supposed to say, ‘You could have made the hand by doing it this way,’” Mr. Hess says.
Who knew? The highlight of Mr. Hess’ athletic career came in college while playing with the ROTC flag football team at Loyola. They traveled out to South Bend, Ind., visited Touchdown Jesus and managed to beat Notre Dame at home. “That made the bus ride home great, and I was able to write about it for the Loyola Phoenix the next day,” he says.

32 Comments

  1. Thank you for a great post

  2. Awesome site…

  3. wow ….so many posts

  4. I guess people just don’t get it..

  5. awesome site….

  6. Great Article! I enjoyed the good read. Thanks.

  7. Thanks for the informative article, it was a good read and I hope its ok that I share this with some facebook friends. Thanks.

  8. Dreamin. I love blogging. You all express your feelings the right way, because they are your feeling, focus on your blog it is great.

  9. Doesn’t seem like the images on your site are working properly, I’m using google chrome.

  10. Kudos to you! This is a really good blog here and I love your style of writing. How did you get so good at blogging?

  11. Love all the opinions expressed here! How is everyone? Love how everyone expresses whatr they feel 🙂

  12. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.. 🙂

  13. Nice!! Great Ifo. Great People. Great Blog. Thank you for all the great sharing that is being done here.

  14. Nice blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  15. High quality info here! Keep up the great work. I love the feelings being expressed.

  16. Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned 🙂

  17. Interesting thoughts here. I appreciate you taking the time to share them with us all. It’s people like you that make my day 🙂

  18. Love the blog here. Nice colors. I am definitely staying tuned to this one. Hope to see more.

  19. Interesting layout on your blog. I really enjoyed reading it and also I will be back to read more in the future.

  20. Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here 🙂

  21. I agree with your thoughts here and I really love your blog! I’ve bookmarked it so that I can come back & read more in the future.

  22. This will be the ideal weblog for anyone who wants to understand about this topic. You understand so a lot its virtually difficult to argue with you (not that I seriously would want…HaHa)! You certainly set a brand new spin on a topic thats been composed about for many years. Good things, just terrific!

  23. Nice blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  24. Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy.

  25. I love the expression. Everyone needs to express there own opinion and feel free to hear others. Keep it up 🙂

  26. Amazing freakin blog here. I almost cried while reading it!

  27. Way to focus and straight to your point, i love it. Keep up the work people. Dont let anyone stop us bloggers.

  28. I am not actually sure if best practices contain emerged roughly stuff similar to that, other than I am definite that your huge job is visibly recognized. I was questioning if you offer one registration to your RSS feeds because I would be very interested.

  29. Me also, tyvm for posting th is..

  30. Very good go through. There is presently fairly lots of information all around th is topic around the net and some are most defintely much better than others. You may have caught the detail right here just suitable which makes for a refreshing change ??¨?C thanks.

  31. Way to focus and straight to your point, i love it. Keep up the work people. Dont let anyone stop us bloggers.

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)