A conversation with Chris Olsen, President, U.S. Rapport
Geopath Member Spotlight
A conversation with
President, U.S. Rapport
Geopath Member Spotlight: Rapport
Briefly tell us about your career in OOH and how you got to where you are today at Rapport
As a planner, there is nothing more fun and challenging than working within the world of OOH. It truly was the earliest passion I had in the industry. I began my media career at Deutsch and remember the first plan that I really felt I contributed to as an Assistant Media Planner. It was branded take-out bags for BBQ joints in Texas. The execution got picked up in the former Media Life, which blew my mind. And that was it – I was all in. The industry has been migrating to a specialist community as of recent, so I find my all-channel planning experience, which allows me to peripherally look back across all mediums, has been particularly invaluable. After 10 years in strategic planning, I moved over to WPP to begin my OOH specialist career where I worked on a variety of accounts and categories including larger brands like Audi/VW, but also a slew of mid-level to smaller accounts that allowed me to learn the business on a more intimate level.
From there, I moved over to Rapport, which is a large global entity in the world of OOH. I was lucky enough to learn from an icon, Mike Cooper, who is the architect to what Rapport is today. Transparency, accountability and sustainability drive our day-to-day interactions. I am so proud to be part of an agency defined by these foundations. Rapport has allowed me to run with these values and incorporate them into the larger ecosystem, which has me excited not only about the now of Rapport but the future.
Chris Olsen, President, US Rapport
In your own words, what makes Rapport stand out as an agency?
I think there are three things that really make Rapport unique: the evolution of our talent, the passion and culture at Rapport, and the accountability and sustainability we work toward every day. I say this rather frequently, but I am constantly blown away by the talent within the company. Each person at Rapport is ambitious and has individual passions that help them reach goals within our network. We have had employees open up offices overseas, initiate SBU offerings and form charity groups all because these individuals said “Hey, I’d really like to do this and I think it would be great for the company too”. I believe the ability to create your own path and build your own job description inherently breeds a tight knit culture and drives retention and high promoter scores, which is what I see happening every day at Rapport.
And then there’s accountability & sustainability. These are my absolute passions and our work in this area is ever present in all that we put forward. With any new product, initiative or general work, we run it through a lens of social responsibility. As it becomes increasingly important to make measurable changes in these areas and do it quickly, we always dedicate our full efforts to achieve these goals.
What is one thing the pandemic has taught you about the value of OOH?
In no uncertain terms, we are vulnerable as an industry. There wasn’t a specialty unit, media owner or agency that didn’t responsibly pull back in 2020. We will need to be incredibly nimble to market conditions and evolving consumer behaviors to continue the steady growth we’ve recently achieved prior the pandemic. We cannot simply offer the same planning strategies, measurement options and media solutions we have in the past. However, we now have an incredibly robust data set to prove our value and that has to become our new normal.
What are you most looking forward to as a new member of the Geopath Board of Directors?
The Geopath Board of Directors is littered with icons, leaders and friends, so I am honored and excited to get going with things and help shape the industry. As a Jets fan there is a line from Bill Parcells “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries”. I am by no means anywhere near Bill Parcells air, but I appreciate the opportunity to go shopping
What is your all-time favorite OOH campaign and why?
In a runaway, it’s the campaign for the Netflix show Altered Carbon that Rapport’s production/experiential division, IMPACT, worked on in tandem with our brilliant Account Services team. The campaign, which had “living and breathing” people on the side of bus shelters was ridiculously lifelike and creepy – yet totally effective because it got people talking. The teams at Rapport did an amazing job making this an iconic benchmark of a program and in turn, the campaign won Best in Show, Best Use of Alternative Media by Adweek.