Press Review from the 2015 NY AdForum Worldwide Summit

AdForum Worldwide Summit Oct 2015 logo


  Every year, consultants participating to the Summit write about the event and what  they learned during that week. Please find below extract of their articles and links to  the original source.




 10 Industry trends from Adforum Summit

by Philippe Paget AdForum  Global CEO on October 14, 2015





 The industry is slowly reaching a phase of maturity

(…Normalization…) Creative Agencies have digested the Digital wave and Digital agencies are now either  specialized or have entered the creative content world. (The agencies strike back! …Agency world has at  last got its act together … The advertising agency is not dead… Some classic agencies have evolved, so it  is possible).

Re-bundling communications services

Increased complexity is stimulating integration of agency services (Clients want simplicity… Going towards more integration… Back to integrated agency services) with Media (Creative agencies are rebundling their offering with media… More integration again with Media… Media Agencies are in trouble) as well as BTL (Production is back in Agencies … they are moving more towards Content, Experiential and Engagement… Content - Social – Integration … Content creation

but from ‘Silos’ to ‘Specialism’

Agencies have developed various models of integration In order to stay ‘agile and nimble’ (buzzwords of 2014) while offering integrated services (Back to integrated agency services with a few buzzwords … Changing models methods more agile, more exciting + future facing)

Technology is the norm but not the end

Digital is now everyone’s focus (Ad+ Technology …Clear digital focus now across every business we met) but not the differentiator any more (Digital pure players are moving in the non-digital space … Technology is not everything) even if (Some networks are applying the principles of digital better than others.)

From Big Data to Smart Data

As Data continue the transformation of our industry (Data is key … Performance accountability via more data), there is a shift from data mining towards data interpretation leading to action (Using big data… Increasing real-time marketing … smart metrics challenge)

It is about business, not just communications

As Agencies head back to the board table (Agencies are growing into consultancy), they meet a larger set of competitors (Entry of business consultantsBroader competitive landscape for agencies) in their goal of solving business issues (Transform business… All want to be "any businesss issue" native…Leading to Business solution orientation vs. Marketing)

Product innovation

Many agencies made reference to their involvement in product development ( DO more important than TELL… Products and Experience more important than ads … Product-first mentality… Product, not relationship)

The return of emotionally - grounded creative

While previous years agencies competed in showing their efficiency through all sorts of web tactics supported by an avalanche of Views and Likes, we witnessed the return of simple heartbreaking stories (The need for brands to be ‘authentic’

Iterative and real time marketing

Campaigns are developed in real time and using data in an iterative process of corrective steps

People Talent Collaboarate don’t brief

In line with ‘Specialism’ and ‘real time’, working processes have evolved in a more collaborative approcach between all parties including clients (Do not brief but collaborate)


Outline Marketing Week viewpoint

by Peter Cowie  (co-founder of Oystercatchers)


cowie-20141014025037943Five insights Marketers must know today to create the optimum Agency model.

As digital, social, and mobile spending continues to move money and attention away from television advertising, advertising agencies are adjusting to the new world – what are the implications for brand owners and Marketers?

At Advertising Week USA, Babs Rangaiah, Vice President-Global Media Innovations & Ventures of Unilever, said that at his company, the trend is toward taking marketing strategy inside the company and using a trimmed down agency roster to execute, leveraging their specific tactical skills, on this strategy. He concluded, “I don’t think anyone knows what the right (agency) model is for the future.”

Last week in New York, Global CEOs of the world’s leading agencies shared their visions for the changing agency model at one of the industry’s most influential gatherings, AdForum’s Worldwide Summit NYC 2015

Peter Cowie, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Oystercatchers, decodes insights from the week and assesses the impact for Marketers.

The three new pillars of brand/agency partnership

Agencies are demanding three succinct roles from Marketers: Namely to frame the challenge, create a safe environment to work in, and to invite the right people to join in and collaborate. One theme propelling this change is ‘People Powered Marketing’ where content co-creation, harnessing the input of influencers and passionate consumers, is liberating Marketers, agencies and brand communications alike to go bigger and further than ever before.

It’s time for Marketers to manage risk and pull back from the pursuit of certainty

In our data-driven world measurement at the expense of creativity is stifling innovation. The pursuit of certainty is delivering the pursuit of average work. All sides agree that reason leads to conclusions while emotions inspire actions, so change must happen to better equip Marketers with the necessary tools to minimise risk & accelerate potential. The exciting development for all is that agencies are now enthusiastically exploring and launching new evaluation tools that go well beyond the norm. BBDO for instance has developed a methodology to measure the release of dopamine [confidence boosting and addictive] and oxytocin [bonding, trust and love] stimulated by advertising to measure the power of emotion and therefore the power to act.

Good examples included Guinness “Made of black”, Pedigree pet food “Feel the good” and Snickers “You’re not you when you’re hungry”.

Agencies simplify complexity

“Make complexity invisible” is an often-heard rallying cry from brand owners who look to agencies to help them navigate the complexities of the omni-channel world and integrated agency teams where every touchpoint of the customer journey influences purchase. We heard from a well-known global agency who had identified the dream team for the ‘Hyper bundled operating model’ that they aspired to; and it was made up of arch-competitors Wieden & Kennedy, RGA, Horizon Media & Geometry. There is real recognition that it is the agencies that collide & the people that collaborate and agencies are responding by putting partnership back on the table.

Massive data matters

The big-data tsunami has been building for years but big insights have not. (For example of increasing scale Wunderman reported that they manage twenty billion advertising impressions every month). More data is no longer helpful and the age of simply harvesting big data is at an end. The pressing challenge today is to deliver real solutions to new problems and do this in fast-time. Massive data will deliver massive solutions that focus on and unlock the real insights influencing behaviour.

The customer remains King and Queen

This old adage remains true. Of the 24 presentations we attended, there was one common thread: put the customer first if you want to succeed, and make sure that you know who your customer really is. Modern Marketers need their agencies to redefine meaningful connections, and top the one-dimensional activities that purely generate branding for branding’s sake. Sapient shared the back office complexities of developing the ‘Get cash without a card’ service for NatWest and the tangible difference it made to NatWest’s ‘Helpful Banking’ campaign was beyond words, creating unique experience-driven benefits for their connected customers.

Ultimately what came through loudest is that this is the most exciting time to work in Marketing. Change has happened, omni-channel communications fuelled by always-on media-channels are today’s reality. The ability to shape the future of every brand or company now lies with the customer, and the responsibility to harness this opportunity lies in the hands of the Marketing department. The agencies are ready, it’s time to go to work.

Original content

The agencies strike back…at last!


By Florence Garnier (Senior consultant UK - Founding Partner France
Roth Observatory International


ROI attended the New York ADFORUM summit gathering every year more than 25 marketing management consultants from all around the world. This opportunity to meet with the industry key stakeholders allows getting a deeper knowledge of the agencies and an overview of the industry key trends globally. This year the summit has mostly gathered creative agencies: 8 networks, 7 independent, 6 global digital and CRM, and welcomed Interpublic CEO Michael Roth, as well as David Jones Havas ex-CEO and founder of You& Mister Jones a “Brand TechCompany”.

Hot topic was : the reinvention of the communication agencies industry.

Agencies start to evolve under the pressure of a broader competitive landscape

As technology-enabled progress grows exponentially, marketing departments need to adapt

to get deeper consumer knowledge, a faster and more innovative product and services

development, as well as more targeted communications. Clients dramatically need support

to conduct the change in their business, opening new opportunities for different type of

stakeholders on the market. The agency competitive landscape has significantly evolved in

the last 5 years, as  “Everyone does the job of everyone” is now the rule. Different agency

types are competing against one another: PR agencies, digital agencies and media

agencies are selling the same content and media capacities to clients. Consultancies such

as Deloitte and Accenture go to client with a business transformation proposition, coupled

with an operational capacity (Deloitte digital for example). Media owners also go to clients,

as their relationship with media agencies grow less and less exclusive. Some media group like

Hearst, created agencies (I Crossing) to have better access to both content and media.

Lastly, Martech companies (Salesforce, Adstream…) go to client as some brands are

internalizing functions (CRM, Content distribution…). Challenged on every dimension of their

offering (strategy, creation, production, contact planning and media buying), the agencies

have started restructuring their offering.

 Agencies are simplifying their offering: the rebundling agency model

Putting stories together, being able to create an environment fostering creativity is one key

differentiator for the agencies. In terms of skillsets, the agencies tend to simplify their offering

to structure around three key pillars: reputation, content, digital, as Publicis Worldwide with

Publicis, MSL and the recently acquired Nurun.. “Clients want better, faster, cheaper” in order

to deliver up to their expectations, some agencies have started rethink their organisation and

ways of working. Most of the creative agencies we have met have now integrated a

media/contact planning division in their organisation. (Mullen Lowe, TBWA etc…). As digital

communication is now fully integrated in most of the creative agencies capacities, it is not an

agency differentiator anymore... Digital Pure players (Possible WW, I Crossing, Work&Co,

Wunderman, Mirum, Sapient Nitro…) move away from digital communications to develop

their offering in product innovation and business transformation. For example Sapient Nitro

supported Natwest in simplifying the mortgage allocation process thanks to digital.

 Actions speak better than words: agencies implement new ways of working with their clients

Most agencies are getting rid of the linear creative process to bring more added value and

ask their clients to team with them. Some of them reposition the relationship at CEO level to

get more from the strategic process: TBWA has implemented a “gang of four” weekly

meeting with Apple’s CEO, CMO and their counterpart on the agency side, to generate top

league ideas. Teaming with clients also to produce content allows a greater speed of action.

For example, DDB Chicago involved his Mac Donald’s client’s lawyers in the room during the

Superbowl, in order to interact live with the audience on social networks. Moneywise, some

agencies move away from the old “remuneration by the hour” model, judged as a source of

inefficiencies: TBWA client AirBNB has implemented a number of nights sold based bonus

scheme.... the agency is currently rolling out the model to other clients globally....

Influenced by their Silicon Valley clients, and under high competitive pressure, agencies

have started to renew their offering in order to be more entrepreneurial and agile. This

positive shift will be for the benefit of clients, provided they can rebuild trust…

Notable notes; and quotable quotes.

by Cam Carter, Managing Partner of Navigare,

Cam Carter

It was an awesome week.

Awesome as in sounds like ‘ahsum’ \ˈä-səm\, not awesome as in awesome \ˈȯ-səm\.

Tell someone you are having a good day? Awesome.

Being seen again as part of the group? Awesome.

Leaving a tip with the barista? Awesome. Just being positive and upbeat? Awesome.

There was a cacophony of ‘c’s: complexity; confusion; craft and crafting; culture; customer; competencies; capabilities.

It continued with a conspiracy of ‘co’s: co-creation; conversations; collaboration; cooperation; colocation; cohabitation; conductivity; connectivity and connected.

There was a multitude of ‘multi’s: multicultural; multi brands; multi skilled; multi-talented; multi-specialist; with multi specialisms.

And that may well be the word-of-the-week: specialisms.

Finally, and delightfully, in this data-driven, technology-influenced world we operate in, was it not a thing of joy to receive so many variations of Moleskine note pads, with pens, from so many contemporary digital-at-the-core-as-part-of-our-DNA agencies?

These multi Moleskine moments were a testament to the enduring (and endearing) power of the hand-written word.


And of those words, what might be quotable?

Andrew Robertson (BBDO)

“I know what I’ve got to do. I just don’t know how to make it interesting”

(quoting Sen. John Warner on the occasion of his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor.)

“Reason leads to conclusion; but emotion leads to action”

“We keep telling clients they need to be bold. We should tell them to manage risk.

The pursuit of certainty will inevitably lead to average”


Maarten Schafer (Cool Brands)

“Facts can change attitude. Stories can change behaviour”


Andrew Bruce (Publicis)
“Organic growth; the leading indicator of an agency’s health”

“You need to make your complexity invisible to me”

(quoting what a CMO said to the agency)


Alex Leikikh (MullenLowe)
“All agencies start out different and end up the same” (quoting Frank Lowe)

“Always think like a challenger”

“Being number one means always thinking like number two”


Keith Weed (CMO Unilever)
“…there’s a real risk for brands that we end up working with individual agencies that maximize a particular channel rather than maximize the overall brand” (Quoted at MullenLowe)


Dan Khabie (Mirum)
“The Accentures of the world are becoming major competitors”


Matt Powell (KBS+)
“It took me 10 years of working in the agency to realise I was in advertising.

I didn’t want to interrupt anyone. I just wanted to build cool shit”


Nigel Vaz (Sapient Nitro) I think
“Social – it’s conductivity as much as it is connectivity”


James Vincent (TBWA)
“If you’re meeting with the CMO, you’re one step away from what’s happening.

You have to meet with the CEO”


Michael Roth (IPG)
“People collaborate. Agencies collide”


From the state of agencies to a media in flux:

5 reflections on the Adforum Summit

by Steve Antoniewicz  Managing Director Recommended Agency Register

steve2011vsmallEarlier in October I visited New York for the annual Adforum Worldwide Summit. It's a chance to meet some of the most powerful players in the advertising industry and understand the trends in the market.Over five days I saw 25 presentations from a mixture of global agency networks and independents large and small, many of which were pure play digital.Here's five of many observations from my week.Art, commerce and scienceFor as long as I can remember the natural tensions in the advertising industry were those between art and commerce.

Nowadays science is also right in the mix. Craft, creativity and the power of ideas are still, as always, stock in trade, but today those have become less valuable in isolation. Now the science of data and delivery through technology seems of equal and sometimes greater import.Big emotions, big effectAdvertising remains a powerful part of culture not because of new models, data or channels or technology but because of the ability of advertising creatives to produce work that connects on an emotional level. Some standout examples of the creative craft were shared with us over the course of the week including BBDO’s spot for Guinness, Mullen Lowe’s for Knorr and TBWA’s for Airbnb (below). Take a bow all.Back to the future for media?There were no media buying companies represented at this year's summit, apparently because they are all too busy pitching and, it seems, putting out fires. The debates on rebates, issues of transparency, programmatic buying, ad blocking etc all seem too be high on the agenda. Maybe this flux will signal the return of the full service agency, it seems like it's on the cards for more than a few.Buy in, buy out?Though the summit is focused on the advertising industry, digital media, comms and experiences were a big themes in nearly every presentation. In most cases the holding companies have built this capability through acquisition or by amalgamating existing agencies. Obviously neither route guarantees success. I did come to ponder whether perhaps in future whether some brave souls might buy back out...Change alwaysFor sure advertising and media must be among the most dynamic business sectors to be in at the moment and the only constant seems to be change. Three notable new movers at scale in the space seem worth watching closely:Cheil – real ambition, a huge advantage now in its proximity to tech, great hires and the Tu Hon approach (look it up on YouTube).You and Mr Jones –  a new model network which will be built from the ground up, well funded, a brand tech approach, MO film early acquisition, some serious intent and acquisitions ahead.I-crossing – a pure play digital agency with heritage and scale now operating inside a global publishing empire Hearst. Agency has brands. Publisher has audiences. Very compelling proposition.The next Adforum Summit takes place in Berlin in April 2016.

Original article

The view from Madison Avenue

by Jeff Estok, Managing Partner of Navigare,

Jeff Estok

The AdForum Worldwide Summit in New York is a unique and highly focused ‘by invitation only’ event that Navigare has had the good fortune to attend for the last twelve years.

This year, 31 leading consultants from ten countries around the globe descended on New York in October to meet, and interact with Agency network CEOs and management from all disciplines. In total, we saw presentations from nearly 30 Agencies over the course of the week.

Last year was about ‘transformation’. Agencies adding new capabilities (specialisms, to use the industry’s newest buzzword) to help transform their Clients’ businesses; and transform their own business models to maintain relevance, lest they be marginalised.

A year on, we saw the impact that this transformation was having. While there were no real seismic shifts or trends, here is what we observed.

Client consolidation and the ‘new era’ of the integrated Agency offering. We’ve come full circle on this it appears, but with an interesting twist. Years ago, Clients sought integration with one, maybe two, Agencies. But with the uncoupling of media, and the explosion in channels, many Clients opted for a multiple-Agency, best of breed roster. But to quote Keith Weed, Unilever CMO: “There’s a real risk for Brands that we end up working with individual Agencies that maximise a particular channel rather than maximise the overall Brand.” This has led many Clients back into consolidation, but with an important difference. Many of the RFP’s are now being received at a Holding Company level, with the ‘ask’ being to assemble the best of the best from within the Group. But this ask comes with a mandate, as expressed by another CMO: “You need to make your complexity invisible to me.” Interesting challenge for Agencies, indeed.

The three common behaviours of successful Clients. To get the best from their Agencies, successful marketers perform three key roles: they frame the challenge; they create a safe environment to work in; and they invite the right people to join in and collaborate. Those marketers that ‘lock arms’ with their Agency partners are enjoying far greater success than those with a ‘supplier’ mentality.

Collaboration has never been more important. This isn’t just an Agency challenge. Collaboration starts with, and is led by, the Marketer. Particularly as collaboration now extends beyond Agencies to media owners, content providers, and the like. Success here lies in picking the right people as champions for collaboration. As one holding company CEO stated: “People collaborate; Agencies collide.”

The data challenge now is to turn Big Data into Big Ideas. The focus on collecting and harvesting more data has been replaced by the need to synthesise the data and turn it into meaningful services, products, and experiences that deliver competitive advantage. That requires a culture built around insights and innovation; and where failure is accepted as part of the learning and refining process.

Brand authenticity has never been more important. There used to be a saying that nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising. Well, death comes quicker these days, thanks to the power and pervasiveness of social media. The lesson for marketers is simple – work hard to understand and relentlessly stay true to your Brand truth.

There is an emerging body of scientific proof that advertising that elicits an emotional response is far more effective than that which doesn’t. The power of emotion has long been argued by Agencies, but a couple of Agencies are moving beyond the ‘trust me’ argument and backing it up by science. One Agency has gone so far as to measure the effects of dopamine and oxytocin release. Why, you might ask? The answer is that while reason leads to conclusions, emotions inspire action. Recent effectiveness studies show that emotion-eliciting advertising is up to 10 times more effective. And with Agencies being held more and more accountable for a single metric – sales – it is in their (and Clients) best interests to maximise the efficacy of their product.


To quote Mark Twain: “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. A couple of years ago, people were questioning the value of Marketing, and were predicting the demise of Agencies. But with the customer taking more control over Brands and messaging, Marketers, and their Agency partners, have an opportunity like never before to create value for their organisations, and possibly get that seat at the table that they have long been denied.


Stephanie Pitet       Stephanie Pitet (Fondatrice associée - Pitchville)


(ce qu'il faut savoir pour anticiper 2016)

Cette année encore, Stéphanie PITET, cofondatrice de PITCHVILLE, a eu le plaisir de participer à la 14e édition du Global Summit organisé à NYC par notre partenaire Adforum.

Le principe est simple et très attrayant : 30 consultants (venus de 10 pays d’Europe, Afrique et États-Unis) dont le métier est de conseiller leurs clients Annonceurs dans leurs sélections d’agences, se retrouvent 5 jours pour rencontrer 23 agences new-yorkaises (appartenant à un réseau international ou capables de travailler pour un client hors USA), afin d’échanger et de se ressourcer sur les tendances de demain dans notre industrie de la communication.



Des agences “every new challenge” natives

C’est la 6e participation de Pitchville à ce sommet made in USA, et définitivement, les agences new-yorkaises (dont on peut dire qu’elles représentent bien la catégorie, tant elles sont amenées à travailler dans une dimension internationale) ont muri. Elles ne se définissent plus par leur métier d’origine ou culture dominante (publicité, digital, RP...) mais véritablement par leur capacité à apporter des solutions aux problématiques marketing et business de leurs clients (ce qui permet aussi d’adresser la demande de simplification réclamée par les clients).

Face à l’élargissement de leur champ d’action, et le regroupement de leurs offres (« hyperbundling ») plusieurs se sont même définies par « ce qu’elles ne sont pas  », ou se qualifient de « modern agency » qui est une terminologie délicieusement ironique eu égard à l’univers hautement technologique dans lequel nous évoluons.

La plupart ont donc grandi de façon organique, croissance générée par le business développé chez les clients existants, avec des augmentations d’effectifs hallucinantes
(en 12 mois, Publicis est passé de 650 à 1000 personnes et Work & Co créé en 2014 compte aujourd’hui 100 collaborateurs !).

Si cela est porteur de grande valeur ajoutée pour les clients qui sont de plus en plus assurés de voir leurs questionnements appréhendés de manière globale et transversale et très proches du business, cet élargissement du terrain de jeu nourrit en revanche l’éternel débat sur les frontières, les agences nous ayant confié être de plus en plus souvent mises en compétition face à des Bain et Company et Deloitte… cabinets qui eux-mêmes se sont équipés de ressources créatives !

Cette tendance va par ailleurs de pair avec évolution de la formulation des livrables en compétition : positionnement stratégique d’Entreprise, transformation du business model, réorganisation/ pédagogie en interne… autant de sujets où ces cabinets se sont toujours sentis légitimes.

À suivre donc, après la stratégie média, ou le déploiement digital, la bataille pour la stratégie marketing & business !

Des agences qui s’organisent différemment

Dans le prolongement de cette volonté de répondre le plus exhaustivement possible aux demandes des clients, les agences cherchent à adapter en permanence leur organisation :

  • Elles renforcent leur process pour toujours plus de co-construction (ou de « collision », en anglais dans le texte), avec les clients, pour faire émerger les idées (@Wunderman).

  • Elles créent leur propre plateforme sociale pour profiter des contenus à partager (@Possible) ou repenser les lieux pour favoriser la coopération (@Mirum).

  • Elles continuent de miser sur les data pour inspirer les créatifs car celles-ci fournissent de précieuses informations sur le comportement des gens (@Wunderman). Les agences cherchent d’ailleurs aujourd’hui à les modéliser ou codifier pour faciliter leur utilisation et le partage avec les collaborateurs (cf. les « behaviors scientists » @Publicis) et déboucher sur des actions concrètes à mettre en place.

  • Elles multiplient les centres d’excellence (@Nurun, @Publicis, @Possible), ou les formats de travail, où les équipes évoluent dans des centres de ressources autonomes, avec certes des séquences de contrôle mais le management est au centre... et tout le monde est responsable du produit stratégique et créatif ! (@Bigspaceship)

  • Elles initient des partenariats avec les « frenemies » d’hier : Google, Amazon, Facebook, Vice, Adobe… De véritables échanges de data en temps réel, de contenus ou de services (produit disponibles uniquement sur Amazon par ex.).

  • Elles réfutent l’idée que les clients puissent confier leur présence sur les médias sociaux à une agence spécialisée, déconnectée de l’agence principale… un vrai pédalage à contre-courant ! En effet, il ne s’agit plus de créer une simple application ou de générer une conversation… il s’agit de vivre avec en permanence, puisque tout est une question d’attitude et de comportement!

  • Elles cherchent (toujours davantage) à mettre en avant l’expérience conso en la rapprochant du produit: c’est possible aujourd’hui de connecter réellement le social et le mobile au commerce (enfin !). A noter le succès d’@Work & Co, agence indépendante qui développe des digital expériences (produits et services) que les consommateurs utilisent chaque jour.

  • Elles procèdent à des rachats ou fusions significatifs: Hawkeye (CRM-Digital) chez Publicis ; Fusion Mullen et Lowe (avec rebranding de l’offre intégrant également Profero, le media et l’activation dans une seule offre), lancement de Mirum (la réunion des agences d’entrepreneurs Digital et Innovation marketing) chez JWT.
    Elles se rapprochent également de leurs ressources média.

  • Elles sont ouvertes à de nouveaux modèles de rémunération, davantage basés sur la performance, voire même @Airbnb, une agence payée au nombre de nuitées louées !

  • Elles challengent leur propre Holding le cas échéant. Selon le modèle vertueux d’IPG en « open architecture », le client doit faire confiance à l’agence et l’agence doit faire confiance à sa holding pour fournir capitaux et recruter/retenir les talents !

Des agences pionnières, qui persistent et signent,
avec succès, dans leur positionnement

Mention spéciale pour le best in class Sapient (13 000 collaborateurs, 37 bureaux !) qui a rejoint le groupe Publicis fin 2014. À la frontière entre technology et story
(le « storyscaping » que nous avions découvert dans une édition précédente),
ils accompagnent la transformation business de leurs clients en identifiant, à l’aide de data, des insights particulièrement pertinents sur le comportement des consommateurs, leurs parcours d’achat et les produits. Exemple anecdotique mais parlant : la data nous dit que les jeunes mères consomment des jeux sur leurs smartphone pendant leur temps de shopping… ne serait-ce pas plutôt qu’elles ont laissé le téléphone à leur enfant pour l’occuper ? Leur savoir-faire unique, combiné à la qualité du portefeuille de clients de Publicis, nous promet de remarquables case-studies pour les années à venir.

Des agences qui savent se réinventer, comme le brillant exposé de TBWA qui nous a démontré à quel point la disruption (« Disruption is our software ») est un concept qui n’a pas pris une ride, et ne sera jamais achevé (« Always in beta ! ») ! Le nom est d’ailleurs devenu un générique dans la profession. Ils se positionnent résolument comme l’agence des marques du XXIe siècle. Grâce à la « Disruption Strategy », Airbnb a ainsi fait voler en éclats la vieille croyance du « On ne parle pas aux étrangers », pour faire de l’hospitalité autour du monde leur marque de fabrique. Par leur nouveau mode de gouvernance, ce sont ces clients challengent eux-mêmes l’agence !

Les clients plus traditionnels (Gatorade, Nissan, Mastercard) chercheront dans la « Disruption live » nouveau concept enrichi de la Disruption, à avancer « at the speed of culture » dans un cercle vertueux et permanent  (définition d’insights pertinents, discussion dans un open briefing réunissant toutes les parties prenantes, passage par la cellule d’audience planning pour la transformation en création, contenus, diffusion, connexion de tous les touch points entre eux).

Enfin, la Disruption va plus loin que le marketing et la communication, elle irrigue l’Innovation en ayant identifié une quinzaine de modèles/produits/services qui génèrent
de nouvelles façons de réfléchir, travailler, se rassembler, faire du business !


Et la création dans tout ça ?

Peut-on faire passer de l’émotion autrement que par une superbe création, et un soin particulier apporté au « craft » (= qualité de l’exécution et du « fini » apporté aux réalisations) ? À ce petit jeu, les valeurs sûres s’en sortent le mieux.

L’excellent Andrew Robertson (global CEO de BBDO) nous a démontré comment
les émotions construisent des marques plus fortes. Lorsque les créations secrètent en nous de la dopamine (activateur, fonction addictive) et de l’ocytocine (confiance, sécurité), il a été prouvé scientifiquement que les campagnes sont plus efficaces ! Parce qu’à trop rechercher la certitude (le rationnel), on atteint souvent une créativité moyenne et fade.

Et c’est bien lors de la session avec MullenLowe que plusieurs consultants ont versé une petite larme devant les campagnes American Greetings (4 mn de vidéo avec de vrais entretiens d’embauche suite à une fausse petite annonce pour le « World’s toughtest job »… celui de mère !) ou Knorr (« Flavor of Home »), voire des larmes de rire sur l’opération Nazis against Nazis (plus les néo-nazis parcourent de kilomètres, plus le volume d’une collecte de fonds pour la réhabilitation des nazis augmente !)

Et DDB (Chicago) toujours en forme avec sa campagne inventive sur Twitter « Lovin’ The Super Bowl » de McDonald’s.

Et le contenu ?

Au cœur de tous les dispositifs, comme une évidence, le contenu a été régulièrement mis en avant par les agences.

À surveiller, la nouvelle structure de David Jones (ex Havas), You & Mr. Jones, qui se positionne comme un global brandtech group (et qui a levé 350 M$ !) et conçoit, diffuse et mesure du contenu ad hoc pour les marques, de manière « industrialisée » et économique en terme de production. Sa structure est composée de différentes startups dans lesquelles il a pris des participations (Mofilm, Pixlee, Mashable...) et dont il agrège les ressources. Il se rémunère sur la création et le nombre de vues.

Ou la très prometteuse agence Possible (WPP).

Et pour toutes, un recours massif à Periscope (l’application de vidéo en streaming lancée par Twitter) !

Pour renforcer leur valeur ajoutée, certaines agences ont fait l’effort de se challenger ! L’agence M&C Saatchi qui vient de se rapprocher de l’agence SS+K, toutes deux ayant une grande expertise des campagnes politiques (both sides !) a identifié quelques tendances/enseignements, issus de leur plongée dans le peuple américain, pouvant s’appliquer à toutes les marques en général.

Le paysage démographique a changé (la majorité des – de 50 ans provient des minorités d’hier). Le puissant acteur du tourisme, Airbnb, ne possède pas une seule chambre. Le rêve américain n’est plus la réussite personnelle mais le communautarisme, le partage (de valeurs), la confiance. L’implication dans un mouvement ne sera efficace que si la cause a des résonnances personnelles. Les consommateurs recherchent une véritable authenticité (cf. le succès du parler vrai de Donald Trump !). Enfin, il est préférable de rester fidèle à son territoire (d’action), ne pas se disperser (et conserver des idées simples !).

Et la place des femmes, sinon ?

Comme en France, les femmes sont bien peu représentées… Saluons les initiatives de SELECT NY où les femmes sont davantage représentées que la moyenne dans le management ; TBWA qui s’est engagé dans les années à venir à porter à 20% le nombre de postes stratégiques occupés par des femmes et IPG qui est aussi un bon élève en matière de promotion féminine (40% à des postes executive)

D’une manière générale, les « nouvelles » agences accordent aussi plus d’importance aux RH, conscientes que les recrutements sont clés dans des organisations où il faut identifier des profils singuliers et polyvalents (partager et travailler ensemble, vite).

NB : victime de son succès, l’agence RG/A est devenue largement contributrice au renouvellement des équipes dans les agences concurrentes si l’on en croit le nombre de nouveaux recrutements présentés qui en provenaient !

Et sur la forme ?

Les agences sont restées finalement (trop) sages (ie. 98 % de Powerpoints !). Bravo à Cheil, l’agence coréenne qui était dédiée à Samsung à l’origine, et qui a profité de cette avancée technologique permanente et d’acquisitions pertinentes (The Barbarians group, Iris...) pour conquérir de nouveaux clients sur fond d’Innovation. Fidèles à leur philosophie TU:HON, intraduisible, mais suggérant la capacité à voir les choses sous un angle différent, ils ont recréé pour nous, dans 5 salles séparées, 5 expériences qu’ils ont fait vivre aux clients de leurs clients. Lorsque l’on revendique la force de l’expérience utilisateur, c’est essentiel !

N’oublions pas

Les agences dont nous n’avons pas encore la réplique en France :
Martin Agency (IPG), PI&C (People, Ideas, Culture), iCrossing (groupe Hearst) qui est passée d’un positionnement « search » à un positionnement « marketing » et dont les recos sont guidées par la performance, et les insights issus de la data et du formidable contenu provenant des publications du groupe Hearst (Cosmopolitan, Marie-Claire, + radios, TV...). Pour Toyota, au-delà du responsive design, ils ont imaginé le site internet qui se personnalise au fur et à mesure des visites et du profil de l’utilisateur.

L’agence Walton Isaacson fondée par le basketteur Magic Johnson, et qui est une vraie alternative pour les clients souhaitant s’adresser aux minorités.

Ou Kbs+ (groupe MDC partners), managée par Guy Hayward (ex Havas), qui se veut aussi solide qu’une agence intégrée et aussi agile et innovante qu’une agence digitale.


En conclusion

  • Mobile et social : il ne s’agit plus de créer une simple application ou de générer une conversation… il s’agit de vivre avec en permanence, puisque tout est une question d’attitude et de comportement !

  • Les consommateurs ne veulent plus entendre parler d’histoire, ils veulent être partie prenante dans l’histoire !

  • L’agence du futur devra non seulement anticiper les attentes et les comportements des cibles, mais elle devra concevoir un contenu qui respecte l’authenticité de la plateforme sur laquelle se trouve cette cible.

Elle devra toujours rester proche du produit, s’impliquer même davantage dans son développement !

Maintenant que création, technologie et data sont efficacement connectées, elle devra les transformer aussi vite que possible en expériences, en moments, en campagnes.

Elle devra toujours renforcer la dimension communautaire… parfois le client n’est pas (encore) une marque mais une communauté qui va générer une marque !

Original article

 The AdForum Worldwide Summit : Day by Day summary

by Johanna McDowell (managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS))

AdForum Summit NYC: Record number of agencies to visit


Day 1 - we’ll be visiting with eight agencies — this has to be a record! I wonder if this is a sign of the times: increasingly competitive, with the role of the intermediary or pitch consultant becoming more and more important and necessary in terms of helping clients navigate their way through the complexities of the marketing communications choices? Is it perhaps also that with economic uncertainty still prevailing — signs of recovery, then dips then ups — that agencies just want to be certain of their own positioning and marketing?

The group of pitch consultants is very formidable, key influencers in their own markets, and some of them globally. I will be finding out more directly from them during the next few days as well so that we may compare notes and also listen to what they are saying about their own markets plus what their clients might be saying about Africa. Which is still a highly attractive destination on many levels.


First up was Wunderman, which has undergone a rapid transformation, with a whole new top leadership in place and a commitment to creative levels, as well as its historical data expertise. There is much focus on collaboration, and a belief that it should be providing “data-inspired creativity” to the consumer. It is blessed with long-term client relationships and the new thinking that the chief data officer of any agency now probably has the “sexiest job in the world”, according to Forbes magazine.

Johanna McDowell with BBDO global CEO, Andrew Robertson


Then it was on to BBDO, whose research keeps informing it that, while rational thinking might produce the strongest messages, emotions produce the strongest actions. We experienced a brilliant presentation from global CEO Andrew Robertson, where we learned about the effect of dopamine (confidence boosting and addictive) and oxytocin (bonding, warm feelings, trust and love) and why it is so important to have both of them in advertising campaigns.

Case studies for Wrigley “Origami” and Pedigree Dog Food “feed the good” are perfect examples of emotions producing great reaction and results to brands, and Robertson has ensured that we understand the importance of crafting of advertising. These campaigns have to be thought about and developed, and that managing risk does not mean that clients should only “pursue certainty” when evaluating a campaign idea.

Work & Co, Fancy

Five shorter sessions followed, with agencies Work & Co (mainly digital and mostly ex-HUGE) which has grown 100% in the last 12 months and employs 98 people, having started up in 2013. Then it was the all-women-owned and -run Fancy, an agency committed to advancing the lives of women in every advertising assignment that the agency gets.


A media industry overview from MyersBizNet gave us a great insight into what is happening in the media industry, why there have been so many global media reviews (driving down costs), and why the industry is not commenting on the issues regarding transparency and rebates.

Big Spaceship

A 15-year-old agency, Big Spaceship was born at the early stages of the digital revolution and has seen the changes through time with a range of clients, including YouTube, and a philosophy that everyone is creative and everyone takes responsibility within the agency — no layering.

Cool Brands

Cool Brands, an agency without offices but with two partners (one from Sao Paulo and one from Amsterdam), travels the world and works with “curators” in 30 countries — a refreshing approach to the industry.

Cheil Worldwide

And, finally, Cheil Worldwide, which treated us to a series of experiences in order to illustrate its product innovation via its Global Creative Product Council, its Tu:Hon philosophy (which is the ability to see things in a new way), its whole new leadership, too, and its commitment to building a Network for Now. While always seen as Samsung’s in-house agency, Cheil has successfully broken away from that positioning through mergers and acquisitions, and a new approach to leadership and development.

The evening ended with an excellent Korean style dinner but, with the “soul in Seoul” provided by Ghetto Gastro of New York, 30 consultants had a suitably busy start to what will be a highly informative and demanding week.


Day 2 :

By Day 2, interesting trends began emerging already at the 2015AdForum Worldwide Summit NYC.

It is clear that the agency of the future is the one which can identify the needs and desires of the potential audiences for brands and products, and enable those audiences to have authentic interaction with those brands on platforms which are also authentic to both audience and brand. There were a couple of agencies on Day 2 which are already doing this. More on that later.

The other major observation is that agencies are starting to invest back into their businesses in terms of top people, as well as technology. This indicates a possible return to the confidence levels that we saw before the 2007 market crash. This is also leading to lots of changes at top levels in agencies — with one of the favourite digital natives in recent years, R/GA — losing several of its top people to these newly emerging powerhouses.

Publicis North America

The first agency visit was to Publicis North America, which is literally moving into its new building and has grown dramatically in the past 12 months, from 650 people to 1000+. It is clear that the agency is enjoying organic growth from its existing clients, plus new business wins with new clients such as Cadillac, Sears, Heineken, Sheraton and Kmart. The agency is seeing a much greater level of diversity in the kinds of briefs it receives from clients — a greater focus on solving business problems, as opposed to just communication problems.

Publicis is once again investing heavily into its digital growth, ensuring that is has a deep digital differentiator in its NURUN system — producing “digital might” on a global level.

You & Mr Jones

We then moved on to You & Mr Jones, the business created by David Jones, formerly CEO of HAVAS, in which US$350 million has been invented. The first “Global Brand Technology Group” is the new positioning, and Jones has identified correctly the disruption in the market which will ensure that agencies of the future will be more about audience and creating meaningful connection, and less about branding for branding’s sake. A lot of the plans are still under wraps but we were given a glimpse of what is intended to be very much a “start-up culture” group. OneYoungWorld, a movement that Jones helped create while at HAVAS, is still a part of his life and again more will be revealed in the new connection.


An agency we met a few years ago as a digital startup, Possible is now WPP-owned and is very firmly positioned for the new era where digital, ATLs, consultancies and online platforms converge or collide. Again, it is all about knowing where your audience is and creating meaningful content for them. Possible is one of the few agencies that Uber has allowed to use its platform for a campaign for a liqueur called St Germain, along with social media platform Periscope.

With 800 employees in North America, Possible has expanded across the world and has kept its staff churn at 7.9%, well below the industry norm of 22%. As more than 50% of ots business now coming from WPP agencies, Possible prides itself in having a highly collaborative and flexible culture able to manage the “horizontality” required in the WPP network. The remainder of its new business comes from client referral but Possible certainly wants to be pitching more for new clients that it wants to target.

The Martin Agency

We moved on to The Martin Agency which we met last year and which this year celebrates 50 years of being in business. With a high degree of commitment to the craft of ideas and advertising, this agency believes that craft matters more today than ever before. Two major creative appointments and a soft launch last year in London are positioning Martin as an agency to watch closely as it unfolds its plans.

It is also determined to have fun in its agency; life is not only about hard work.


PI&C — an implementation agency, independent, fast — was our next stop. An agency run entrepreneurially by experienced people who have no intention of ever using time sheets to aid their billing processes, they are determined and have proven that they can run their business on a project-management basis with a strong commitment to production values and excellence. Preferring to focus on content production at minimum cost to clients, PI&C has certainly worked out how to deliver for its clients and is charting a new course within its sector.


And, finally, we met with iCrossing, part of the Hearst Group, and now led by Nick Brien, previously global CEO of McCann. iCrossing has been in the digital space for 15 years and, as part of Hearst, have a strong understanding of the value of editorial. The synergy between its stellar magazine lineup, which includes Cosmo and Popular Mechanics, and iCrossing’s digital capabilities is positioning this business as one which will be able to connect with consumers on many levels — going back to the point of understanding audiences and delivering authentic content. Brien talked about taking agencies “from admakers to cultural engineers” — a quote he attributes to the current Cosmo editor.

Day 3 :

slight respite for the consultants on Day 3 of the 2015AdForum Worldwide Summit (two hours of freedom in the afternoon) gave us time to have a break, catch up on emails or have other meetings.

All of the consultants here have been busy with work in their respective countries; there seem to be less pitches and more relationship/collaboration/training work being done by our community. The IAS has seen the same trend and commented on it in South Africa; I also think that the economy’s unpredictable nature and recovery are playing a role in this.

But there is no shortage of agency choices — and the good news is that the network agencies are embracing change as much as the newer startups. There is no question that the main visuals we are seeing in terms of organograms consist of the overlap between tech and creative, and this is where the agencies intend to focus.

Mullen Lowe Group

First up on Wednesday was the Mullen Lowe Group, with CEO Alex Leikikh explaining why he pursued the merger of his agency, Mullen, with long-term industry stalwart, Lowe. Mullen on its own enjoyed 76% growth in the past six years — something of a record — and it needed to expand globally. The resultant agency network, which has offices in 90 countries and 6 400+ employees, is active in 65 markets. We met the top team and learned about the concept of the great “rebundling”, which will see ATL, digital (Profero), media and activation all in one place, enabling the agency to help clients maximise the brand, rather than the channel. The agency revealed a great deal more about its plans but did ask us to keep things under wraps while the internal communications for the agency group is under way. We felt very privileged to be in on the news upfront.


Next was Mirum, the global tech group of agencies within the JWT group. Mirum is the amalgamation of 11 different digital agencies started up by their founders and sold into JWT. Our own Quirk is one of these agencies, which will gradually be rebranded Mirum as part of the new process [however, Quirk’s head of marketing, Greg Schneider, denied that Quirk will be rebranding when queried by MarkLives — ed-at-large].

Mirum talked about business transformation, marketing innovation and commerce ie building relationships. Along with many of the digital groups, Mirum is enabling connectivity within the traditional agency set up and also sees itself as competing with just about everyone ie agencies, platforms, tech companies etc. It is a complex world for marketers — making our role as intermediaries even more important in terms of navigation.

Walton Isaacson

The third agency was Walton Isaacson, a local North America agency, whose one owner is the famed Magic Johnson. — It has offices in various parts of the country and an interesting proposition for brands that want to reach ethnic minorities with diverse backgrounds.


The final agency of the day was KBS+, part of the MDC Group and apparently expanding globally. We met with them for presentations and dinner, and I will report on them tomorrow.


Day 4 :

Day 4 of the 2015 AdForum Worldwide Summit was another full-on day with visits to four agencies. What is important to remember here is that each visit is at least 90 minutes and then we immediately set out for the next meeting. Inevitably, this is across the city.

So we spend significant amounts of time in the coach which ferries us around all day, spent doing notes from each meeting, catching up on emails (there is wifi in the bus) and talking to the other consultants. Many new businesses have been created in that bus — and partnerships formed. It is a very important part of our AdForum trip.


But first some feedback on KBS, the final agency of Day 3 that provided us with an update — led by global CEO Guy Hayward, recently from BETC ( part of HAVAS), whom we met previously at an AdForum session in Paris.

KBS is a boutique-style agency, though not small. Some interesting new work for the BMW electric car has put it on the map and it is ready for more work as its global footprint grows. The agency set up some cool games for us to play while we were visiting and included a 360-degree selfie booth as part of the entertainment. What was interesting for me to note is that all of its pitches in the last two years have been run by intermediaries — pitch consultants play a big role in this agency’s life. The evening was structured into a series of short, focused presentations, interspersed with an excellent dinner.

So on to Day 4.


First up was SapientNitro and, as always, the agency inspired us with its forward-thinking, its humble approach to its work and its strong track record of being at the intersection of tech and storytelling for the past 10 years. AdForum has played a huge role in the life of this agency, now part of the Publicis Groupe of companies. What with 13 000 people, and 37 offices, its work in “storyscaping” is impressive.

A highly stimulating session, with some insight into Sapient’s role within the Publicis Groupe plus excellent breakfast, set us up for the day. The talk was of “conductivity” rather than simply “connectivity” — as always, ahead of the game. Excellent case studies for Nat West, Target and Lufthansa demonstrated Sapient’s undoubted prowess in connected digital communication, along with its considerable strengths in film. Some fascinating insights. This is an agency that knows what is needed and what is missing in a marketer’s tool kit, and then sets out to help that marketer achieve goals not previously articulated.

Select NY –> Select World

We then moved on to Select NY (now to be known as Select World), a very interesting agency, 25 years old, with a strong sense of humanity and beauty. It has offices in New York, Hamburg and Shanghai, and the agency is committed to “Beautiful can change the world”, with clients such as Wella and Nivea, as well as Merck Healthcare. Exceptional work and a very caring environment are ensuring that this agency remains a great place to work.


DDB was next and it gave us an update of 12 months in order to demonstrate its differences from other networks, as well as their own commitment to constant improvement. The offices that it focused on were New York, Chicago and San Francisco, in terms of their growth and trends. We were made to understand that DDB is a network of agencies, where each one is self-contained in terms of talent and clients, and each one is encouraged to develop its own specific culture. The search for great talent continues unabated, with the normal challenges of competing with networks, tech companies and consultancies.

M&C Saatchi Worldwide and SS+K

Our final stop was M&C Saatchi Worldwide, which has recently partnered with long-established New York agency, SS+K, an agency known for its political advertising strengths — this, of course, resonates with the history of M&C Saatchi. SS +K, which ran the Barack Obama campaigns for both 2008 and 2012, and shared some memorable moments from these breakthrough campaigns, as well as other more recent political examples. The new agency is not only politically focused, but it used these case studies to demonstrate to us its capablities in building campaigns, creating impact over the years and being in touch with what is happening among the new consumer. The synergy between the two agencies is obvious, which is why this new partnership with M&C Saatchi is sure to be a success. And that was the end of Day 4.


First up was TBWA\ Worldwide, and what a revelation! The Disruption Company has had something of a rebirth and has trademarked its disruption model as a result. It is interesting that we heard several agencies talking disruption but only TBWA ‘owns’ the word. The philosophy of disruption is now throughout the group and the more it practices it with clients, the more those clients want it to do so and so the disruption continues.

Proactively, it looks at its clients daily and measure opportunities using one of its proprietary tools. Disruption deals with much more than marketing and communication; it may foster innovation. This process has attracted new clients, along with a new way of working. Some of these new clients — from Silicon Valley, such as AirBnB — are looking for more and more disruption, and are keen to pay the agency on a results basis.

TBWA has evolved considerably in the last 18 months, especially under the leadership of current global CEO, Troy Ruhanen. It also has introduced Project20/20 which is designed to ensure that women leadership at executive level increases to at least 20% within the next few years.


IPG Group

And, finally, we met with IPG Group CEO, Michael Roth, who talked to all of us about the various agencies in his group and gave us an overview of IPG’s intentions. The group is in a good position financially after several years of hard work, and the various agencies have strengthened as a result. McCann, Mullen Lowe, FCB, Weber Shandwick, Media Brands (Universal and Media Initiative), R/GA, HUGE and Deutsch (and the other smaller agencies in the marketing services division) have all developed into strong standalone agencies which compete independently. Having said that, Roth believes in open architecture, and considers that clients should have the flexibility of working with whichever agencies in the group are most suitable for that client — if this means working across agencies, there is no reason not to do so. He is also of the opinion that agencies should be client-focused, while the holding company concerns itself with the P/L or balance sheet. IPG also commented on the number of media reviews that are happening in the industry; it does not believe that this has been caused by lack of transparency and the rebate issue, but rather it is just global clients deciding to review their options. From a diversity point of view, IPG is the most diversified of all of the holding company groups, what with 40% of its executive being female and an ongoing commitment to building this diversification. And so we ended the week on a very positive note.

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