AdForum Worldwide Summit NYC: Are ‘legacy’ agencies adapting?
by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) NEW YORK CITY: As usual, about 30 consultants from all over the world converged on NYC for the Spring AdForum Worldwide Summit, 24–28 April 2017. As we headed out on our wifi-enabled coach on day one, our expectations were that we’d hear new things from some and updates from the ‘heritage’ agencies, defined as those with a long tradition. We weren’t disappointed.
With a new global CEO, John Siefert, who’s been with Ogilvy for 26 years and was appointed CEO 18 months ago, the Ogilvy team demonstrated how they are taking all of their own sub-brands within the group and transforming the complexity of all of these different divisions into one Ogilvy offering.
Siefert talked about the over-fragmentation of Ogilvy, which has added complexity to an already over-complex market place with multiple channels and options.
Clarify, Simplify and Unify is the process that Ogilvy is undertaking in order to ensure delivery. Case studies from IBM Watson, 3G Capital and McWhopper were shown to us to illustrate what is possible.
Siefert sees client conflict, that might arise due to the transformation, being handled simply and with greater trust levels — as agencies move to become more like other professional services organisations, such as legal firms or accounting firms or even management consultancies. The overriding impression of the agency is one of thoroughness and professionalism at top level.
We have met with BBDO many times and it never fails to surprise us with outstanding work and results. Definitely an Adforum favourite. This time the “surprise” was that they themselves — Andrew Robertson and co — didn’t do the presentations; they asked three of their clients to talk about what it’s like to work with BBDO — and to show some case studies and work to illustrate the relationship. It was an excellent session with clients Mattell (Barbie), PepsiCo (Mountain Dew) and Mars( Pedigree — Feed the Good).
An exceptionally interesting session and there will be lots more to share on this when I present back at the marketing masterclass later this month.
The future of pitch consulting
AdForum had conducted a short survey via AAR regarding the state of the pitch-consulting business. We discussed the results at the next session, which was just for the consultants.
- Succession planning
- Search via automation
- Diversity of service offering
All of the above were covered, and the good news is that the industry, though small, is important and growing.
After a 20-minute holdup, created through being stuck in a lift, five of us consultants were finally able to attend this session. Brooklyn Brothers, which made its name through content production above the line, below the line and across all channels, now has linked up via acquisition with Golin, an established PR business owned by IPG and present in more than 50 markets (including South African via GGi Communications), and may distribute its content on a far and wide basis. Brooklyn Brothers and Golin certainly showed us the future.
J. Walter Thompson
We ended the day with an update from JWT and its new top team. Lots of changes in the past few years — and it is aware of the “changing landscape” commented on by many agencies at the summit but left uncertain about how many of the “legacy agencies” are able to adapt.
Some interesting case studies and a themed dinner, then 40 very-tired consultants were able to go back to our hotel, 1 Hotel, Central Park, for a well-deserved rest.
Day 2 looked to be even more promising, with views from at least three of the more-modern agencies and one that has completely transformed. More tomorrow.
- Day five: AdForum Worldwide Summit NYC: Key summit observations
- Day four: AdForum Worldwide Summit NYC: Why clients review agencies
- Day three: AdForum Worldwide Summit NYC: Transformation starts with clients
- Day two: AdForum Worldwide Summit NYC: Production, production, production
Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), which is partnered with the AAR Group in the UK. Johanna is one of the few experts driving this mediation and advisory service in SA and globally. Twice a year she attends AdForum Worldwide Summits as an international consultant, which helps her lead the SA advertising industry forward, keep in line with international trends and remain competitive. She runs the IAS Marketers Masterclass, a programme consisting of masterclasses held in Cape Town and in Johannesburg.