Take responsibility for new business

There are a few indicators to signal how a marketing firm is going to do in new business – pitches won and lost for example. But numbers can’t tell the whole story. If your agency is winning new business, great – you’re probably doing most things right. But if you’re losing… well, check this short list and see if there is something you need to correct. And address any issues now, or you may end up wondering what happened and why you never won any new business.


Lead Right! Agency senior management often finds themselves working “in the agency” rather than “on the agency.” At most agencies, senior management is trapped into the role of being the number one skill player. That’s like a football coach trying to run with the ball. Get off the field and let your agency advance the play. Set expectations and train your staff.

Position Right! Agencies have been out positioned by the consultants and the brand specialists. Agencies are forced to deal with lower level functionaries on the client side in conference rooms while major decisions are made at the CEO level in the boardroom. Reposition your agency with a consulting side and an advertising side. Set your firm up for long-term growth. Run around client-side junior coordinators that don’t have the brains or the talent to give your creative staff solid direction.

Grow Right! New business must be focused on lead generation. New business is the lifeblood of the business and leads are the heartbeat. Your new business effort needs to be split into winning the opportunity and winning the account. Find and identify hundreds of clients who are unhappy and want to change their marketing communication companies.


Remember the sun in Cannes

Cannes, June 2014 – You may have walked along the Croisette and wondered what those huge glass boxes with famous paintings on them and paper inside were… Well, we’ve got the answer for you! We had the chance to meet Jason Minyo ( , one of the creatives involved in the development of this piece of art, who walked us through the installation and explained to us what the project consists of.


Cannes is a sad place for Italians 2

brw-macs2Now for the sequel to my previous article, about the dismal performance of Italy at the Cannes Lions Festival. So how did we do this year? The 61st Cannes Advertising Festival awarded 1143 Lions: Italy won 15 of them, even fewer than last year (19), putting it in18th place in the rankings.

As usual, the USA took first place, with 215 Lions, followed by Brazil (107 – at least some good news for Brazil!) and the UK (104).  France rises to 4th place with 85 Lions (29 more than last year).


Cannes is a sad place for Italians

As you know, this year’s edition of the Cannes Lions Festival is now well underway. The event is recognised as one of the best thermometers of creativity levels in each country. Last year, the Italian advertising community was very happy with the 19 Lions it won (out of 1,059 awarded).

In reality it was a pretty mediocre result – its only merit was to be in line with the previous year (18 Lions), as well as confirming an improvement over the shameful results of 2011 (only 4 awards). A better way of gauging how a country “weighs” creatively is to compare the number of Lions it wins with those of other countries. But that data is not easy to access, either at agency or advertiser associations. To our knowledge, it is not even collected by trade magazines. However, at Istituto Protagora, we have been monitoring this situation over a number of years.

To get a meaningful result, one needs to go back at least five years. We have analyzed the last 10. Here are some of the highlights:


The secrets of digital luxury

What strategies do luxury brands use to succeed online? 

Until recently, the luxury industry tended to be a bit snooty about the internet. Luxury brands lure customers with craftsmanship, heritage and beauty: all things the digital world lacks. If you don’t agree, just take a look at Google, Facebook and Twitter. They’re very useful, even addictive. But beautiful? Not really. That’s because the internet was built by technologists, not artists.

Yet luxury brands no longer have a choice. They have to go digital, or face flagging sales. The emerging younger market grew up with the internet. And in developing economies, luxury retailers often have a limited physical presence. One of the reasons luxury brands have been rather slow to establish themselves in India is a lack of premium real estate – and subsequently high rental costs. (more…)

Thoughts on “shockvertising”

While conducting research and
 gathering information for a university project, a colleague and myself became 
particularly interested in what has become commonly known as “shockvertising”: advertisements with provocative content.


“Shockvertising”  has
 been frequently adopted and discussed in recent years. However its effect on 
the audience has yet to be proven due to the double-sided nature of
the phenomenon. Shockvertising works by attracting the attention of the audience. At the same time, it plays on highly emotive elements
 which in normal life might be considered negative. Embarrassment, fear, sadness and disgust are just some of the emotions often roused by shockvertising.


Flight 370 lost in social maze

I flew into Penang, Malaysia, almost exactly a week after Malaysia AirPlane mazelines Flight 370 vanished. Although I’m a reporter by training, I was not there to write about the missing plane. In fact I was on the first leg of a lecture tour of Asia. My brief was to talk about branding in the digital era to assorted groups of students and marketers.

Still, I got sucked into the story anyway. My taxi driver was full of opinions, which ranged from government cover-ups to holes in the fabric of time and space, Lost style. The first thing I saw in the lobby of the G Hotel was an enormous board marked with the words “Hopes and prayers for MH370″. It was black with messages of condolence. Today we know that, tragically, the aircraft probably crashed into the sea. But back then the speculation in the Malaysian press was almost as wild as that of my driver. As jet-lag kicked in, I began to feel lost myself. (more…)

Agency of the Future


Six years ago I published an article in Advertising Age entitled “The Agency Model Is Bent, Not Broken.”  It was in response to claims than it was broken.  Now, a half-dozen years later I believe the model is finally evolving to the shape of the future.

Last August, when the planned merger of Publicis/Omnicom was announced, the trades explained WPP’s “agency team approach,” in response.  In it, Sir Martin Sorrell did not emphasize competing on size, but rather on shape.

Quoting Ad Age: “WPP promises a client an integrated marketing unit tailored with talent from across its agencies…  (more…)

Taking a knife to a gunfight

In the 1987 film The Untouchables, Sean Connery’s character sarcastically accuses one of Al Capone’s men of taking a knife to a gunfight. That is what Procurement does when using hourly rates to evaluate an agency’s staffing plan and ultimately their fee request.

The client and agency very carefully construct a scope of work. The agency then develops a staffing plan, sometimes down to the individual deliverables level and assigns each person on the plan a number of hours and an hourly rate.  The roll up of all the hourly rates and number of hours can become the initial fee request from the agency. (more…)

After Publicis Omnicom Merger: Will consolidation continue?

During the AdForum Worldwide Summit in NYC, the CEOs of 6 holding companies  discussed with the world’s leading pitch consultants the future of the industry and commented on the Publicis- Omnicom Group planned merger. Here are the meeting notes I took:

Will the merger work?

In the days following the planned merger announcement in Paris, competitors as well as commentators were quick to raise the potential problems of this merger. In our conversation with the CEOs some of these arguments resurfaced, though in a more moderate tone: Client conflicts, of course, but even more, client fear to be diluted in a larger, more bureaucratic organization, Talent and management drain, Focus of the most senior management level on non-client matters, Clash of culture and Leadership complexity.


Angela Natividad Paris, France Strategist and writer
Bob Sanders Pittsburgh, United States Consultant
Dan Pearlman Santa Monica, United States CEO/Managing Partner
Darren Woolley Sydney, Australia Marketing Management Consultant
Emanuele Nenna Milan, Italy Founder, Now Available
Enrico Gervasi Milan, Italy Founder, Istituto Protagora
Florence Garnier PARIS, France Consulting company
Florie Hubac Paris, France Communication & Marketing Manager
Hervé de Clerck , Switzerland Founder
Johanna McDowell Johannesburg, South Africa
Mark Tungate Paris, France Journalist and author
Matt Walsh Wellington, New Zealand Director of Business Development
Maud Largeaud Paris, France Chief Information Manager
Monika Vaiciulyte Lund, Sweden Student'
Philippe Paget Paris Area, France Global CEO AdForum
Steve Fajen New York, United States Marketing Consultant
Steven Johnson London, United Kingdom Creative consultant
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