“My math background has helped me approach problem solving in different ways, in creative ways.”
Bruce Neve was a gifted student who accelerated through two grades in his east end Toronto schools before landing at UWaterloo. He found math fun and easy (well easier than writing essays) and ours was the only university at the time with a Bachelor of Mathematics degree program. Without the Co-op option, Bruce completed the degree in four years and post-graduation in ’77, launched a two-year celebratory sojourn through Europe, including Scandinavia, Russia, Poland and Germany — long before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Upon his return to Canada, Bruce began his worklife as an actuarial assistant with Excelsior Life, a division of Aetna. He managed a database and fed punch cards into an IBM 360 for a year before following his sister into advertising. It was a field that called upon his native artistic skills as well as his love of pop culture and number crunching.
Working at full-service agency Baker Lovick, Bruce flourished as the business evolved from a focus on the creative to one centered on the use of data analytics to understand consumer behaviour. By 1987, he was VP and associate media director for YR Brands. Subsequent stints as vice president for Young and Rubicam and Saatchi & Saatchi preceded his role as president of MediaEdge for 13 years, from 1997 – 2011. Next, there was a four-year turn as a CEO for Starcom MediaVest Group prior to his current appointment in 2016 as president of Canadian operations for True Media.
When it comes to understanding the problems faced by the businesses he serves, Bruce said, “My math background has helped me approach problem solving in different ways, in creative ways.” Once the problem is defined, he and his team profile the target customer and detail the consumer journey to arrive at a competitive media plan that spells out “how much they should invest and where they should invest.”
Bruce was at the vanguard of the collection and mining of big data and emerging Internet technologies, especially Google and Facebook, to enable the foresight, strategy and media buys for brand development. By understanding trends and culture, and deploying algorithms and data management platforms, Bruce has developed results driven media strategies for the advertising buys of major clients including Ford, Molson Coors, Samsung, and Questrade.
His company sources the creative work and devises, optimizes and monitors key performance indicators like brand awareness, number of clicks, sales or cost per acquisition. His current challenge: “How to better use location-based data and communicate in real time, particularly with mobile smartphones.”
Over the course of his career, Bruce has negotiated sponsorship of the Olympic Games, the Super Bowl and the Masters Tournament, with the added benefit of attending in person, multiple times. “This career has offered me everything I love: problem solving, technology, numbers, and sports and entertainment.”