by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) LONDON: It certainly was a very busy three days for the 2019 AdForum Worldwide Summit London and what’s very important to remember is the networking, ideas and exchanges that happen continuously among the consultants. Our time spent together in the coach that takes us to each destination offers us much opportunity to catch up, compare notes, talk about our respective markets and gain some global perspective about what’s happening in this important industry. The learnings are invaluable.

AdForum Worldwide Summit logoThen, at the end of each summit, our feedback (which we compile each day after each agency visit) is formalised and shared with each agency in turn — a very-important part of the process and the reason for the agencies to be participate. Our last hour is spent together as consultants all commenting on the summit, and its highs and lows. This particular one was a spectacular success; it will be a hard one to beat.

Our final day often contains a couple of highlights and we weren’t disappointed on Wednesday, 25 September 2019.


One of our favourite agencies, VCCP advised us that it is now global, fully independent (having bought back its shares from WPP) and fully integrated, with a strong PR presence of 450 worldwide in addition to its advertising capabilities — a big leap forward.

Its presence in eight cities came on board as follows:

  • London 2002
  • Berlin 2008
  • Prague 2012
  • Madrid 2012
  • Sydney 2012
  • San Francisco 2016
  • New York City 2016
  • Singapore 2018

The next city will be Shanghai.

Since it started out in 2002, its positioning and point of view has remained: “We exist to transform the fortunes of our clients by challenging and disrupting the categories they operate in.” Its team used several case studies to illustrate it being a challenging network for challenging times.

  • Easy Jet — look and book
  • O2 — Armour
  • Paddy Power — Jose Mourinho
  • Domino’ s Pizza — the recovery channel
  • World Vision — unboxing
  • Cadbury Dairy Milk — donate your words — Age UK loneliness
  • Shell — greener and cleaner

Plus several more.

A very likeable team of people, well-respected by clients and intermediaries for its level of professionalism and niceness. We left the agency after a great session with three very large bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk each.

2. MullenLowe

Another AdForum favourite which treated us to a quiz on industry matters and used the opportunity to entrench some of its latest facts and figures, MullenLowe UK is enjoying a growth spurt in new business and considerable momentum within the business.

The time spent was fun and informative (it ensured that we saw some of its excellent work for the NHS — nurses recruitment drive), as well as enjoying some early gin and tonics as its session was held at a well-known gin specialty restaurant.

3. Anomaly

After an overview of the whole group by global CEO, Karina Wilsher, it reminded us of its positioning, which is values-based, mission-driven and focused on value-based compensation agency model as opposed to time sheets, hourly rates and FTEs. It prefers risk and reward, and it works. Able to produce large amounts of content across multiple channels for its clients, the agency group has continued its growth trajectory from US$20m in revenue in 2010 to US$190m in revenue in 2019. Most growth comes from existing clients but some new clients have come on board in the past 12 months and Anomaly is proud of its 67% conversion rate in new business. London, Berlin and Amsterdam have been particularly strong in new-business wins.

Digital transformation has seen huge growth in its offering and recently it launched video-calling for

Case studies for Johnny Walker (revitalise but be sure to “keep walking”), Unilever U, Cancer Research UK (obesity), Virgin Trains, Instagram (anti-bullying) and Grenfell building-cladding activation/projection have all been high-profile successes in the past 12 months.

We left Anomaly with personalised Johnny Walker bottles of whisky — a big treat! — and so it all came to an end.

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 October 2019.

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