by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) NEW YORK CITY: Well, by now, the consultants are all becoming slightly weary — after three days of non-stop agency visits and 15 hours of working including late-evening presentations. But we were all up and ready once again early on Thursday morning, 10 October 2013, for another full day of AdForum Worldwide Summit.

adforumGeometry Global

Big excitement was a visit to Geometry Global, the new shopper marketing/precision activation agency formed by Ogilvy from a number of subsidiary agencies that have been in place.

The preparation that the Geometry people demonstrated through their presentation was inspiring for us all, as we looked at case studies from Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa and North America; these were “live” case studies so we also had the experience. And a delicious breakfast.

The people of Geometry are hard-working and humble — a pleasure to be around and I am delighted that it has also opened up in Johannesburg — I am absolutely certain that it will be highly successful.


We then moved on to Havas at its new offices at 200 Hudson, and learned about its “Change Faster” mantra, along with its commitment to social media and digital, as well as social responsibility and business.

It has put creative, media and digital all in one place, starting in Paris and now in New York; this philosophy will be rolled out everywhere in the Havas world.

As always, it was a highly creative and collaborative experience, with a fascinating lunch preceded by a number of speed dating sessions around the agency. Havas’s open policy really works.


We then met with Michael Roth of IPG. He is always good news in terms of his overview of the industry and his agencies, and believes that, while there is confusion in the market place due to the economic conditions still not being completely recovered, along with the mega-merger of Omnicom and Publicis, there is opportunity for IPG.

He summarised the state of his agency networks very succinctly – commenting on how great two of the IPG agencies in Africa are – along with the various successes in other parts of the world.

Jack Morton

We then met with Jack Morton , a shopper marketing agency owned by IPG since 1998 but started in 1939. This is a very stable agency network which has only had three CEOs since it opened its doors all those years ago.

A very refreshing presentation and an interesting business that would certainly be very welcome in South Africa.


The final agency of the day was iCrossing, which we met last year. A digital agency of 900 people, it identifies itself as moment makers who build connected brands one moment at a time.

We learned a lot today about the consumer purchase decisions and the consumer purchase journey. The consumer data that is now available in this area is making it much easier for agencies to be precise in their communication, and we see this as a growing area of business for all client companies where consumer behaviour measurement is critical.

The iCrossing team showed us case studies for PNC bank (the virtual wallet) and Hampton Inns (a moment that was videoed with a 3.5-minute clip which is now online and is watched – to the end – each time).

And so the day ended with all of the agencies we have met this week joining the AdForum consultants for dinner at a New York restaurant. Very social and lots of fun to have everyone together.

Preview of Day 5 on Friday:

Day 5 will see a very quiet bunch of consultants on the coach at 8.00 tomorrow morning and our day looks like this:

9am-10.30am: Breakfast with BBDO Worldwide CEO Andrew Robertson
10.30am-10.45am: Maurice Levy, via video, on Publicis Omnicom Group
10.45am-11.45pm: Consultants roundtable : Mega-merger consequences at BBDO offices
12.15am-1.15pm: Lunch with Vertic LinkedIn Agency Relations Services CEO and founder Sebastian Jespersen at the Empire State Building
1.30pm-2.30pm: Global Agency Consultant Association Initiative
2.30pm-3.15pm: Wrap-up

Looks like another great day!!



Johanna McDowellCurrently MD of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), Johanna McDowell has been in marketing and advertising since 1974, with experience both on the agency and client side of the fence. She held directorships in South African and British ad agencies until being appointed MD of Grey Phillips Advertising in 1988; and built Integrated Communications, a PR-driven marketing communications company that went from zero base in 1991 to an R8-million-fee turnover by December 2004.

After graduating in marketing and business studies, Johanna’s experience spanned large corporates, including UK and SA banking, manufacturing and retail, along with a 15-year stint in two of the largest ad agencies in SA and in a medium-sized agency in the UK. As such, she is well-placed to offer commentary on marketing and advertising from a local and international perspective. Follow her on Twitter at @jomcdowell.

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist