by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) NEW YORK CITY: It was breakfast with a song or two on day four of the AdForum Worldwide Summit NYC, 24–28 April 2017, at G7 Entertainment/Project Worldwide, which we met a few years ago in New York. This is the largest independent network and is an employee-owned group.

It has offices all over the world, including Kenya, so Africa is represented. G7 believes in the power of music and brandsm and is in the business of creating authentic brand connections through music. One of its clients at RAM Trucks came to talk to us about how music has contributed to branding and sales growth for the company.

Over breakfast we were entertained by musician Paul, who treated us to Nashville-style country music and song. A big treat for the consultants and a very different agency meeting.


Chuck Brymer and Wendy Clark, global CEO and CEO North America, talked to us about creativity, humanity and technology. These are the three tenets of DDB which has led it to winning more Cannes Grands Prix than any other agency network.

Clark, who joined DDB from client side in 2016, and who was named Ad Age’s Executive of the Year for 2017, shared the detail of how DDB won the McDonald’s global business following a lengthy pitch process. DDB now has McDonalds in 66 countries worldwide. (Note that, in SA, Owen Kessel Leo Burnett holds McDonalds; Leo Burnett holds McDonalds in several other countries, too.) In order to win this business, DDB set about building a customised agency called Unlimited in Chicago in order to service McDonald’s. What is interesting about this is that, as a result of this bespoke agency and the process that DDB went through to create this, the agency is now able to offer this kind of solution to other clients.


We then went to visit the 4A’s, the US equivalent of the IPA in UK and the ACA in SA. CEO Nancy Hills presented top-line results from a recent survey it conducted among agencies and clients to establish the reasons that clients review their agencies.

Findings and reasons

  • More transparency
  • Looking for a different fee structure
  • Bringing the work in-house
  • More automation
  • Less loyalty to their agencies

There was discussion about Procter’s media approach, as well the volume of work being taken in-house by clients.

Five ways for agencies to win (and keep) business

  1. Earn the trust
  2. Results as a mantra
  3. Transparency always
  4. It’s about them, not you
  5. Provide a road map

The study revealed that the lack of trust is caused by the lack of understanding by clients of the digital ecosystem. Much more education is needed.


The final meeting of the day was with Doner, an agency within the MDC network. Doner is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and has offices in Detroit, LA and London. The agency has comprehensive production facilties, including edit suites, recording studios, and content production. It talked about the post-advertising age, in which brands are moving from interruption to interaction and agencies from storytelling to story-starting. Doner believes in doing “audacious things for ambitious brands” and has a strong “maker culture”.

After showing us a very engaging Fiat case study, we were then treated to wine-tasting, along with tasty cheeses.

See also


Johanna McDowellJohanna 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.

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