Digital 40 Over 40 2017: Sean MacDonald, Chief Digital Officer, McCann Worldgroup

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Sean Mac Donald
Sean MacDonald
Chief Digital Officer, McCann Worldgroup


When Sean MacDonald arrived at McCann Worldgroup two years ago, he was charged with putting digital at the center of all companies, geographies and platforms. The evidence suggests he has over-delivered.

Functioning in part as an agency uber-consultant, MacDonald created a Live Social Tool Kit that’s now used across the agency network. He instituted an approach called Human Tech that focuses on combining technology with agency talent to engage people in an authentic way. Part of that approach is TechDate, used by GM, USPS and Zurich Insurance, which introduces clients to the startups that are most likely to be a fit. He wrote a small manifesto, "Decoding Virtual Reality," to show brands how to use VR to create awesome experiences.

The relentless drive to find human meaning within technology led to big wins, as McCann blended real-world adventure with digital media.

For the "Field Trip to Mars" initiative for Lockheed Martin, MaDonald oversaw the invention of special glass that could shift from transparent to a high-definition screen to make kids on a bus believe they were traveling across Mars. The effort won 19 Lions, making it the most-awarded work at Cannes last year.

To launch Xbox’s Tomb Raider reboot, the agency brought gaming to outdoor media with "Survival Billboard." Eight gamers stood on a ledge in front of a London billboard as they battled the rain, snow, wind and heat ordered up by 1,000 people per hour via social media. It won 16 Lions.

When it comes to experience, MacDonald has it up the yin yang. Described by a colleague as both a nerd and a mystic, his eclectic background includes time spent as a Buddhist monk, documentary film director, founder of a macrobiotic cooking school and founder of a recruiting service in Vietnam.

That depth of experience has allowed him to create brand experiences full of meaning and wonder. We can’t wait to see what he’ll come up with next.      


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