Alberto Brea

Executive Director, Strategy and Planning at Ogilvy

Alberto Brea is an Executive Director for Ogilvy’s Engagement Strategy practice. He provides strategic advice for consumer experience planning and relationship management. Brea brings a diverse background to the team: he has 15 years of experience leading strategic engagements in branding, customer research, and digital experience in global markets spanning the US and Latin America. Prior to joining Ogilvy, he ran communications planning for clients such as HP Enterprise, CVS Caremark, and the US Army.

The Pursuit Of Irrelevance In The Age Of Abundance And Algorithms

Today, every brand wants to be a publisher. To be the Buzzfeed of their category. To generate more content, faster and cheaper, and gain the attention of their audience. The problem is that people don’t want more content. They want more of the things they love (e.g., Game of Thrones, Homeland, and John Oliver), which is harder and more expensive to produce. And, most brands are not making enough of that. To compete in the age of abundance and algorithms, we need to change from churning content to creativity in real-time.


Content marketing is becoming a rat race. Whoever produces more content faster and cheaper is more likely to win. The problem with the rat race is that, even if you win, you’re still a rat.

Today, content is an abundant resource. Everyone is doing it: 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs engage in content marketing. Unless you are creating something unique and/or contextually relevant, you are just adding to the sea of content. According to The Content Marketing Institute, only 9% of B2B marketers consider their content marketing efforts to be “very effective.”

More content does not necessarily equal more visibility. To further fill users’ News Feeds with articles of interest and relevance to them, Facebook created a new ranking algorithm that will usher in a greater amount of relevant content by tracking the time they spend reading the articles in their feeds. This algorithm rewards quality and relevant content.


Today, the moment is the message. People live with their mobile devices. They want information that’s relevant to the micro-moment. As brands, we want to reach customers at the right moment. However, we are also competing with publishers and other brands engaging in programmatic marketing, which make it even harder for brands to become top of mind to customers. Publishers have more authority than brands, which makes them rank higher on searches.

Programmatic marketing allows other brands to target the right people at the right moment, but it is not immune to the principle of good advertising. We still need to be engaging, memorable, and breakthrough to get people’s attention. Data and technology are not substitutes for creativity.

We all agree that context makes the content relevant. Having information about the best burger on your block is different from getting the same information when you are about to go out for lunch. One is meaningless; the other is useful. However, none of them break through. Being relevant is key, but it is still not enough. If we want to transform the brand, we need to add originality to the mix.


The internet is about choice and immersion. When I am watching something I love, like an NFL game, I want to search information about the match in real-time. I want to get a different perspective, know the players better, and check other people’s comments. Content creates value; context makes it relevant; originality makes it exciting and groundbreaking.

We can use the case of the GIFERATOR to bring the point home. Fewer people were playing the Madden NFL video game than they once did despite the fact that NFL ratings were higher than ever. Madden needed to regain its cultural relevance and connect with a new generation of football fans.

The marketing team created the Madden GIFERATOR, a real-time NFL GIF engine that generates a live stream of animated GIFs triggered by the action on TV. GIFERATOR became part of mass culture with massive adoption by fans, brands, NFL teams, and players. More than 160 media outlets piled on, quickly making it one of the year’s top meme sources.

This shows us the days of being shy with content are gone. We need creativity more than ever to break through the sea of content, but we need it in real-time to make it relevant. Until now, we kept these two worlds apart: the creative world, and the data and tech world. Hence, our brands lived in one or the other of these planets. Now, it is time to change, to combine them, if we want to survive in the age of abundance and algorithms.

Written by Alberto Brea, Executive Director, Strategy and Planning at Ogilvy
Edited by Lydia Chen, Medill IMC Class Of 2017


Content Marketing Institute. (2013). B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America. Retrieved from

Madden Giferator Blitzed Every Corner Of The Internet. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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