Can an agency really be a “business partner”?

by: Richard Hunt

This is a suggestion that is greeted with cynicism by clients in this country. Often the agencies have only themselves to blame, since they use the phrase without really demonstrating that they can contribute more than advertising proposals. However in Copenhagen we saw some examples. One which seemed to get everybody interested was presented by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, on behalf of their airline client SAS. They described how they had pointed out to SAS that some journeys inside Sweden are just better made by train. Why therefore spend money fighting a major competitor ( SJ -Swedish Railways), why not instead collaborate? So this is what they are now doing. The two companies sell joint tickets for certain routes, and SAS will assist customers if they are delayed by an SJ train, in the same way as if the customer had chosen to fly SAS. The agency presents this as a more ‘transparent’ approach to competiton, which implicitly strengthens SAS advertising claims in other cases, because it is building trust.


AdForum Copenhagen Summit; Part 2: The Network strikes back!

by: Richard Hunt

Several network agencies also came to talk to us. Saatchi & Saatchi showed some wonderful work from around the world, including the outrageous Teletransporter campaign for Andes beer, while Grey did a convincing job of showing us a network which is small and lean enough to allow clients to become closer to the process, in the way that smaller independent agencies often achieve better. But as usual with the network agencies I had this nagging doubt: would clients in the Czech Republic really have access to this talent and resource? What is the advantage of a network agency in Prague, 2010?

The answer came in spectacular fashion from McCann-Erickson. Lee Daley and John Wright showed us how the agency has developed a system which would allow it to immediately assemble the right team for a client project from any one of its 19,800 global employees. It isn’t fully live yet (but will be within weeks), and I am not sure that we are permitted to give out too much detail. But I was not the only one in the room who was seriously impressed.

Network offices in Prague have been accused of not really offering much beyond the logo; the resource does not in reality stretch beyond the people in the Prague office. McCann’s new system challenges this assumption. But as the plane commenced its gentle descent towards my Czech island home, I felt myself returning to Czech reality. Faced with the possibility of choosing an agency team from 20,000 talented people around the globe, how many Czech-based clients would be serious about utilising their talent?

Richard Hunt

Executive Search

AdForum Copenhagen Summit; Part 1: Hotshops everywhere

by: Richard Hunt

The annual AdForum Summit brings together ‘pitch consultants’ from around Europe and agencies who relish the chance to tell the consultants about their progress and why the consultant should pass the news on to clients. For me it’s a chance to step into another world, and a vibrant, optimistic world it is too.

In the Czech republic we hear that agencies are dead or dying, that global clients can only work with network agencies, that network agencies are dinosaurs… Beyond the border, in the real Europe, its a different story.


“Motherfucking joycore!” at Amsterdam Worldwide

Brian Elliott, a veteran of international advertising, last met the pitch consultansts at Ad Forum in 2007, when the European Summit was hosted in Amsterdam. Now three years later, much has changed.

Amsterdam Worldwide was founded by Brian in 2008, after he and his co-founder of Strawberry Frog went their separate ways. Brian retained SF’s clients and the Board. From this he founded the new agency, which he runs, as CEO, with partner and Executive Creative Director, Richard Gorodecky.

“Our business is to build our clients’ brands”, said Brian, from the top of the Turning Torso building, in Malmo, Sweden. “We work internationally, to build brands across borders.”

Amsterdam Worldwide believes that the recent perfect storm and resulting financial crisis opens up opportunities so “we can do what we love best. This is the best time to be in this business – but it’s tough for anyone advising companies from the outside. Clients are looking for efficiency, accountability – and results. We offer creativity that works. The work speaks for us.”

Ideas without borders, from Brian Elliott, Founder and CEO, Amsterdam Worldwide

The agency is a firm believer in Ideas Without Borders. This drives results – because an idea is more powerful than a border.  In this way, Amsterdam Worldwide says, it is possible to take small local brands into the world and make them famous, make them grow. Nicolette Lazarus, Business Development Director: “Ideas pass cultural, linguistic, organisational and cultural borders. That’s what we’ve built our business around. And it’s built ceativity that actually works. This liberates brands to grow.”

Indeed, every quarter since the end of 2008 has seen Amsterdam Worldwide win a substantial new client. This includes Intel and Ararat.

And what do the consumers think – the clients of the agency’s clients? In response to Amsterdam Worlwide’s award-winning work for ASICS, one blogger called the campaign “motherfucking joycore!” Which pretty much speaks for itself. Otherwise known as creative craftsmanship for the digital age.

Frantic Friday

by: Johanna McDowell

Sweden in 10 minutes – that’s how far Malmo is from Copenhagen. By train at 8am to Malmo and the Turning Torso building -an extraordinary feat of architecture and the highest building in Scandinavia. One of our hosts briefed us on the advertising world in the Nordics (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark) and the increasing role of intermediaries.

Seems very similar to what has happened in South Africa, where our business has quadrupled in 12 months.


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