Late last year, Lorenz Esguerra moved from Colle McVoy, where he led business development, to become General Manager of Weber Shandwick Minneapolis. The address is only a few blocks east, but it was a big step for Lorenz, a Philippines native, longtime consumer marketer and public relations executive. He began his career at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati and Asia, first in finance and then as brand manager. He did a consulting turn at Bain & Co. and then Mattel before moving to agency posts in Minneapolis, where his work in recent years has leaned heavily digital.
Weber Shandwick’s office in Minnesota, founded in 1981 by local businessman Dave Mona, has a storied history in traditional public relations and still prides itself on helping clients with mainstream print and broadcast media relations, crisis and issues management and reputation building. However, the office—part of New York-based Weber Shandwick’s network of 77 offices across the globe—has shifted significantly to integrated marketing campaigns aimed at driving engagement, reflecting the convergence of digital, social and content, including video and live production.
In his own words trained as a “traditional P&G marketer,” Lorenz turned that same corner in his career long ago. Here he opens up about the journey and what excites him about his new gig.
- What attracted you to the General Manager position at Weber Shandwick Minneapolis?
First and foremost, I’ve met amazing and inspiring people at Weber Shandwick, both in Minneapolis and across the network, people that I really wanted to collaborate with. The Minneapolis office has a wealth of superb talent, and I feel blessed to be their leader. The office also has a rich and well-diversified client roster, including the U.S. Army, Honeywell, Mall of America, National Pork Board, Children’s Minnesota, American College of Surgeons and newer clients like Des Moines International Airport, Daikin Applied, and Envestnet. And we’re really proud of our work with the Super Bowl Host Committee.
- What’s your professional “story?” What are you bringing to the table?
I’ve been in the marketing services and agency business for about 20 years — here for the last nine and in San Francisco before that. I have both led and founded digital and new media agencies in the past. I pride myself on being an integrator who can activate multi-functional teams and get them up to speed quickly. I’m very competitive too. There’s nothing like the “thrill of the hunt,” winning pitches with the best solutions and ideas. I was in charge of business development at my last two jobs, with Modern Climate and Colle McVoy.
- What brands did you represent?
There have been a ton, mostly in consumer, healthcare and technology. My first job was with Procter & Gamble in finance. Then I moved to marketing, where I was brand manager for brands like Tide and Ivory. After getting my MBA at UCLA, I joined Bain & Co. as a consultant. Then I got into the agency business, where I worked on Merck Animal Health, Hewlett-Packard, Mattel, Proactiv, Jamba Juice, Ubisoft and many others.
- What are your priorities at Weber Minneapolis?
Three key things: 1) Growth in terms of earning new engagements by bringing clients (current and new) ideas that will deepen the impact we make for them; 2) Hiring the best people to grow the team; and 3) Making our agency culture thrive. Weber Shandwick Minneapolis has a reputation as a great place to work and I want to build on that.
- How is the office doing?
We are solidly profitable. The office is strong – we have an amazing base of clients, remarkable talent and a compelling marketplace proposition. And, we have exciting prospects in the pipeline. Plus, we are hiring!
- Talk about your client mix.
We have a very diverse client mix of big and small firms with a nice blend of local and national. It’s a strength of the office. In 2017, we worked with over 50 clients. Our top 10 clients account for less than 50 percent of the business.
- Weber moved downtown a year ago after 30 years in Bloomington. How has that gone?
Staff tell me it’s been an adjustment but they love being where the action is. We have a great space at 510 Marquette. People take exercise classes in the basement gym, and they love access to the skyway shopping and all the pubs and eateries. Public transportation has been a big plus—we’re only steps from the Nicollet Avenue light rail station. Super Bowl LII festivities were on our doorstep.
- You’ve been here only a few weeks. What are your first impressions?
I came in at a fabulous time, just as Super Bowl activities downtown were ramping up and our office was serving as a warming hut, remote worksite and after-5 party central for Weber colleagues and clients from around the country. I’ve been so impressed with the skill, vigor and professionalism here. This firm has always been deeply engaged in the community, as in our central role with the Super Bowl Host Committee.I also got the opportunity to spend a few days in New York with colleagues from 31 offices across the Americas. They came from North America, Brazil and Colombia. It was a bit of drinking from the fire hose but I got a great sense of the creative talent, integrated media thinking and analytics reshaping our work. I knew it already, but the experience affirmed my decision to come here.
- Two questions: What keeps you up at night? What are you excited about?
Coping with the fast-paced evolution of our business keeps me going. We have to provide our clients with engagement strategies that include opportunistic, in-the-moment ideas, as well as tangible strategic plans for keeping their brands fresh and authentic. One great example of the former: We used Super Bowl Week to help our client, Top the Tater, sell out its entire campaign inventory twice — in 48 hours across 47 states. And they got a ton of amazing exposure! I love seeing the spark and energy driving ideas like that.
- What are your thoughts on the challenges facing the industry?
I was trained as a traditional P&G marketer but to sustain myself I had to figure out the change that came with the influx of digital and new media. The industry continues to evolve by leaps and bounds. Agencies that resist adapting to these changes quickly fade away. The way information is shared is so democratized now. Consumers don’t just receive information, they share experiences and influence one another. So the best way to convert them to a brand or an idea is through stories from others that are believable and authentic—not just cerebral but emotional.It’s why social media is so important.At the end of the day, we have to solve clients’ problems. We’re basically a talent business that needs to be sure our solutions are on point, relevant to clients and help them move their business forward. To do that we have to make sure we have the right mix of people in our agency – we have to not only know where to put the apostrophe but also provide the creative paths that influence decisions and behavior.