AdForum Worldwide Summit NY 2014

From 6-10 October 2014, the 13th Adforum Worldwide Summit in New York gathered the world’s leading Agency Search consultants to meet privately CEOs and leadership teams from 25 agencies.

The goal of this unique event is to share advertising luminaries vision, to get « the view from the top » and engage in a conversation with the people setting the agenda of their agency. Through the variety of agencies, it offers an unparalleled perspective on the evolution of the industry and the position of its major actors.

About participating consultants

In the past 12 months, the 30 “pitch” participating consultants from the 5 continents handled an estimated 825 search assignments, of which half global and regional, accounting for an estimated billing exceeding USD 9 Billions.

According to the Association of American Advertising Agencies, search consultants manage about 60% of all creative agency reviews in 2011.

Geographical split of practice Split of search by discipline








Consultants reported strongest growth from digital, social and shopper marketing agencies reviews. Alltogether specialized agencies searches account now for ¾ of Agencies searches handled by consultants.

About participating agencies

CEOs of 2 Holding Cos, 5 Integrated, 1 Media, 2 Creative Hubs, 5 Digital, 2 Activation, 3 PR and 4 ‘decoupled’ agencies composed the picture of the 2014 Adforum Worldwide Summit.

Some of the major networks newly appointed CEOs of Publicis, JWT and Saatchi & Saatchi and leadership from Lowe and DDB discussed rebound strategies. Media Agency network OMD Worldwide led an inspirational meeting about the increased importance of creativity in the revolution that Digital brought to media planning!

And while big networks showed how they are reinventing themselves, new global agencies are expanding from traditional grounds (CP+B, The Martin Agency) as well as from different roots such as Activation (Iris, Project:worldwide) or Digital (R/GA, Huge). Will they be pushed around at their turn by the smaller, younger, greedy, digital native shops (Brooklyn Bros, Work & Co and Story)? And with the explosion of social media, will PR agencies take the lead in brand communications? Luminaries from Edelman, Weber Shandwick, Hill & Knowlton and JWT have debated the idea.

The Adforum Worldwide Summit is also an exploration of the ever changing landscape of marketing communications. While networks are fighting for a better integration, their holding Companies are hosting a new breed of agencies (Craft, Tag, Prodigious and independent Fred&Co) offering advertising production directly to advertisers.

Main findings:

While in the past Creative agencies felt the need to convince of their digital expertise and digital agencies of their creativity, Agencies are now clearly driven by the social media agenda i.e. the way of life of the millenniums and its consequences on how to build brands.

One main conclusion may well be that Creativity is still the main driver of successful communications. Only it may take more diverse and numerous paths. From the ‘big idea’ executed on all touch points to the ‘brand story’ delivered on multiple platforms, the focus is to engage consumer; hence the buzzword of the week: Brands are not about commerce, they are about culture.

It is about making sure the brands they advertise are talked about, famous. Therefore, Content is the name of the game & Relevance the name of the winner. Insights are sourced in the user experience and Activation is playing an increasingly important role in the mix.

Another trend is that explosion of information accelerates content consumption and calls for a permanent need for new content to stand out the crowd. And the multiplication of communications channels call for specialization and cost efficient execution.

And finally, as Brand value is increasingly its capacity to build a bond with its consumer, it is logical to see Agencies thriving to develop new products inspired by Brand communications.

Click here to see the full agenda of the week
Click here to see all articles about this year summit

AdForum Summit New York October 6-10 2014


Meeting with Cheil.
This little known agency – Korean with Samsung as main client – is starting to re boot and create new awareness on a world wide basis.

Identified six key trends in digital :
· Brands are still in control
· Shoppability – every screen should be an opportunity for commerce
· Snackable content – use of emoticons
· Data drives mass personalization
· The internet of everything – ecosystems, connectivity, functional integration
· The sharing economy eg Uber and similar.

Cheil is an agency of 5000 people world wide and 45 offices.

IRIS Worldwide
Participation brands out perform others due to the emotional involvement of consumers. Great premise.

Presented an excellent case study on client Philips – talking about “return on involvement” – a different ROI.

IRIS sees itself as a problem solving agency – very much focused in business solutions.

Work &Co.
18 months ago started up. Highly successful already – based in Brooklyn. They produce digital products for clients such as Google, Chase, Virgin etc. Brand development, page development, digital development. Extraordinary people.

Advertising and PR – compete or co-operate
Social media has had a huge impact – the rise of the conscious consumer.
We are all able to publish now – whatever and whenever we want. Story telling is at the core of campaigns. It is the thinking that wins.

PR is moving into creative content – and starting to hire Creative Service Directors – from ad agency traditional backgrounds in order to meet the needs.

Measurement needs to include “sharability” ie will the campaign be shared by consumers – build this into the analytics. Lots more to report on re this topic – will send more detail on my return. Great discussion.

Project: Worldwide
Originally George P Johnson – founded in 1914.
Now a collection of owner managed experiential agencies with six main agencies in the group. Lively, interesting and great atmosphere. They are all over the world including in Kenya – not yet in SA. Agencies include:

· Argonaut
· Partners+ Napier
· George P Johnson
· Spinifix
· Pitch
· Motive

All of them work with each other on the various clients. Each also have their own client lists.
This is a successful ESOP – ie the employees own the businesses.
Fascinating business model and some brilliant work – more to share on my return.

And that was Day 1.