by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) LOS ANGELES: There are always some good surprises at AdForum Worldwide Summits and, by that, I mean when an unexpectedly good agency suddenly becomes known to us pitch consultants for something unique. On Day 3, Wednesday, 10 April 2019, this happened twice.

Team One

AdForum Worldwide Summit logoFirst up was Team One, an agency within the Saatchi & Saatchi division of the Publicis Groupe. This is a full-service agency for premium brands, with 500 people all based in offices in North America.

Team One has a proprietary multiyear study of the Global Affluent Tribe, which it runs in order to understand the values and behaviours of this influential group it studies in US and in European countries. With offices in LA, Dallas, New York City, Chicago and Atlanta, Team One is ensuring its unique position with this particular target audience or tribe — and, of course, will be able to roll campaigns out globally as the need arises.

We learned about XR (extended VR) and we were exposed to case studies for Ritz Carlton, Lexus, Lexus Plus, Haagen Dazs, Indian Ink, The WhateverParty, and Little Bits. It is looking to increase its client portfolio with luxury brands in categories such as home, beverage, health, electronics and ecommerce. We encouraged it to be specific in its intent regarding the particular luxury brands that it would pursue.

It has maintained a strong independence within the Publicis Groupe due to its unique offering. We saw some excellent creative work for this sophisticated audience but we learned that it’s not only about luxury brands; it’s equally important to understand the goals and social conscience of this particular tribe.

The Stagwell Group

The Stagwell Group was next and we learned that this relatively new, privately held group of born-digital and data agencies has recently acquired MDC, the holding company for traditionally creative agencies such as 72andSunny, Anomaly, CPB etc.

Group CEO Mark Penn explained that it saw the needs of marketers changing and that the traditional holding companies were not keeping up. In fact, he commented that the holding companies were fracturing. So it created the alternative in an economy where spend in traditional media is declining but growth is happening in digital media — and that is where Stagwell has invested. It experienced 14% growth year-on-year across the group, which is now three years old.

The group’s digital capabilities ensure that the modern marketer has all the tools needed to break through into the digital first world. Interestingly, it has not had to pitch very often, something he sees quite differently within the newly acquired MDC agencies. In addition, the investment philosophy of The Stagwell Group is to buy complementary agencies which will not compete against each other as that makes no business sense.

The group has been built on four principles:

  • Agencies must be born digital
  • Data-driven
  • Practitioner-led ie CEOs working on their businesses every day
  • Integrated-solutions-driven

The MDC acquisition expands the creative opportunities that the group was lacking and one of the most-important first steps will be to focus on the integration of these agencies into the Stagwell philosophy.

We were shown a case study for Gillette, which was presented to us by the client lead from P&G. It was a refreshing change and, so far, the only agency to bring a client into one of our sessions this week. The client explained how quickly Stagwell agencies worked to reverse a potential decline in the Gillette brand. The agencies turned around work in a month, which normally would have taken many more months at the traditional agency group where the brand used to be.

P&G had to change the way it worked, too, in order to accommodate the speed of the Stagwell agencies — which was an interesting insight.

Two of the agencies, Code&Theory and Observatory, presented case studies for Falcon and Chipotle respectively.

A very enlightening session and an exciting new player in the industry who will definitely change things up.

Dentsu Aegis Network

Our final session of the day was with Dentsu Aegis, the media agency group formed only a few years ago and now acquiring selected creative agencies eg FoxP2, McGarry Bowen etc. It sees itself as a global marketing solutions network, purpose-built in and for the digital economy. Flexible and integrated by design, DAN intends to provide solutions for 60% of brands in the world which want to reduce the number of agencies on their rosters.

The various agencies in the group took us through case studies for brands, such as Oreo’s with Game of Thrones, Westworld.

DAN is the group for clients to call when they want solutions that are:

  • Data-driven
  • Tech-enabled
  • Idea-led

An excellent presentation, high energy and, with Nick Brien at the helm in the Americas, we saw a very clear path and positioning for the network.

We had a fabulous dinner at the Lobster, a well-known Santa Monica restaurant — definitely a highlight of the week.

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. She will be presenting detailed and in-depth reports and case studies on each agency from this 2019 AdForum Summit at her masterclass presentation in Johannesburg in May.

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