by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) NEW YORK: Day 2 of 2014 AdForum Worldwide Summit in New York City was a big day for us, as we saw three industry leaders during its course: Maurice Levy, CEO of the Publicis Groupe, Arthur Sadoun, CEO of Publicis Worldwide and Gustavo Martinez, global CEO of J Walter Thompson.

AdForum Worldwide SummitIn addition, we met with HUGE and its top team, as well as Story Worldwide, plus there was a good discussion about production decoupling — lots of experts!

Main takeouts

The main takeouts from the day were:

  • The search for the best talent continues, and agencies will pay top dollar to attract the talent that they need
  • Competing for this talent are not other agencies but Facebook, Google and the other digital empires that have been created in the past 20 years
  • Lots of mergers and acquisitions on the go — again driven by the need for talent
  • Machines talking to machines eg iPhones programming washing machines which time their cycles according to the needs of the electricity grid
  • Everything can be measured — but this should not detract from the approach to the idea
  • Doing business anywhere in the world is not easy — markets are flat; growth markets are not performing
  • Decoupling and recoupling are happening everywhere — mainly with print advertising and far less with TV, as this is a more complex process. This trend will continue.

It was an inspiring day being up close with these leaders and listening to their thoughts on the industry in general. What is fascinating is how much they love their industry and how committed they are to it.

Strategy and creativity — digital or otherwise — win the day.

Opportunities abound

The large network agencies are regenerating, reinventing themselves; it is a constant in their lives. The smaller networks are growing and searching for new experiences, new ways to communicate. It is a great time to be in the industry and opportunities abound.

Day 2 was a day packed with insights and information, outlook and expertise. Clients apparently continually want agencies to be able to tell them “what’s next” and are keen to be first with new solutions. So the pressure to be innovative is intense for everyone.

No wonder New York never sleeps.


Johanna McDowellJohanna McDowell is managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), which stands at the forefront of the complex world of agency selection in South Africa, and she 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 to keep in line with international trends and remain competitive. Follow her on Twitter at @jomcdowell.

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