Day four in the Big Apple

22 Oct 2012 10:19:00

NEW YORK CITY: Day 4 of the 2012 AdForum Worldwide Summit was a jam-packed day and we met with a total of six agencies all over New York city.

One of the highlights was the Forsman and Bodenfors agency who we met at the Aquavit (Swedish) restaurant, and provided an excellent Michelin 1 star – Swedish Smorgasboord. Their creative work is highly recognised and awarded throughout the world – a real treat on many levels.

Lowe Deutsch had showed us their network creative work earlier in the day – very impressive work across the board particularly the campaign for demobilisation of guerrilla armed forces in Columbia. Very moving advertising.

Four speed dates in the afternoon with We are SocialHUGEPereira O’Dell and M80gave us a full digital perspective – although everything is now digital in reality.

We had dinner at the Marc Forgione restaurant and all of the agencies we met this week attended – it was quite a party.

The added value of communication agencies

by Florence Garnier – Founder of Marketing Efficiency consulting company

A summary of the Paris AdForum Summit April 2012

“We are operating in one of the most competitive sector of all,” says Maurice Lévy, CEO of Publicis Holding group, to worldwide agency relationship consultants on third day of the Paris Ad Forum summit. “Competitive, because agencies are fighting one against the other to win new business, and secondly because once they have won a budget, their task is to make their client win against its competitors, and lastly, because this talent industry is all about egos…and thus competition”.
In uncertain economic times, marketers are trying to find communication solutions within the limit of their organizations to implement more reactive and interactive strategies to meet consumer’s needs. With a strong time and cost pressure some of them are questioning the added value of communication agencies…

Make or buy?
It is often said that agencies “sell ideas, orchestrated by talents, and executed on different communication channels” …
“If an agency can be replaced by a senior art Director, it’s not an agency anymore” declares Marco Tinelli, CEO of fast growing international digital agency Fullsix. Because some agencies are not perceived as bringing enough added value, some advertisers (retail, financial services…) tend to internalize some communication functions such as production of creative assets or community management. For those who go along that route without giving it a second thought, there is a high risk to consider communication a commodity, thus loosing the brand heart and spirit. Owner of a strong emotional territory, the luxury sector is known to nurture some defiance of the communication agencies…With some noticeable exceptions, when both part make the most of client and agency creative side: Ogilvy has put the Louis Vuitton legacy “in motion” with the “journey” worldwide campaign featuring Keith Richard, Sean Connery or Angelina Jolie, JWT has built a whole product and communication territory for Maison Cailler, Nestlé’s chocolate premium brand. “The only thing, which makes an agency relevant in the food chain, is the emotional creative aspect” underlines Maurice Lévy. “Big ideas last long” says Rémy Babinet, Head of creation and co founder of BETC. “Our added value lies in our capacity to attract, hire and build teams of talents” insists Mercedes Erra, co founder of the same BETC, HAVAS’ group “jewel of the crown”.

Scale or skills?
In order to establish a closer relationship with their clients some agencies prove to be very successful in trying new models. Some focus only on their core expertise: “we keep the managing inside, and the doing outside”, explains Luc Wise, one of the founder of HEREZIE, a 18 months years old agency, operating for 16 clients, among which Essilor or Chevrolet.
Some others have suppressed the account management function (“no bullshit”) and try to limit “the number of dots on the map”. Creative people liaise directly with the advertiser. This has proven very successful for: Fred & Farid, operating from France with 200 people of 20 nationalities, on budgets such as Martini, Weight Watchers, Orangina, Société Générale…Praised for its Youtube campaign for Tipp-ex, Buzzman, a six-year-old agency of 45 people focused on digital content has the same credo and commits to the advertiser results: “the agency remuneration is linked with the achievement of KPI’s awareness/engagement/virality”

Preparing the future together?
To support their clients in tackling the marketing challenges of the future, some agencies are building new practices, and some develop R&D programs. From Fullsix perspective, new practices are: experimentation, acceptance of failure, speed of action, and measurement as ground for continuous improvement. With a differentscale of action, Publicis has 300 people working in R&D within the Vivaki structure, regrouping media, digital, a nerve center, as well as a “watch system”. The holding company has also built a partnership with Google, conscious that the “Googles of the world” have business models built on scale whereas communication agencies are build on skills. Strangely enough, the pride of the Publicis group is not its largest company, but DENUO, an original initiative founded in 2006 by Richard Tobaccowala, aiming at detecting and supporting start ups in their development, thus giving birth to the marketers of the future. In France, BETC also subscribes to this kind of initiative with the “start up lab”, supporting e-loue, vestiaire de copines, MyLittleParis et Supermarmite helping them to become brands.
Enabling consultants to meet with the “best in class’ or ‘best in class to be’ agencies on one  market, this Summit has been a new opportunity to tackle the issues of the marketing industry.
In today’s world, cost is far from being the only criteria; it’s also very much the technology and know how which will make the brands expand. People and ideas will remain at the very heart of the industry….

Day three in Paris

PARIS, FRANCE: The final day of the 2012 AdForum Worldwide Summit in Paris started on the roof of the Publicis building, with CEO Maurice Levy giving us his view of the communications world and his group from the vantage point of the Arc de Triomphe.

Spectacular view.

As always, the Publicis Groupe plays its cards close to its chest so we were left guessing regarding its future moves but in no doubt about how M. Levy views his competitors!

Moving on to new independent agency Herezie (French for heresy), started by three top advertising men 18 months ago and enjoying stellar growth. We departed its building – behind the Louis Vuitton building on the Champs Elysees – to the accompaniment of robed monks and Latin chants.

On to Proximity and BBDO for two final agency presentations and lunch – day three was a shorter day – and we were left in no doubt that the BBDO network is at the top of its game in the world. Unstoppable was a word that came up frequently – as it is the creative and growth leaders in the industry.

And then it was time to say goodbye to all of the other consultants who all agreed that, without doubt, this was the best of these summits to date.

Day two in Paris

PARIS, FRANCE: From 8am until 23.30pm, 30 consultants from all over the world visited and met with six agency groups throughout day two of the 2012 AdForum Worldwide Summit in Paris.

Starting with Full Six, one of the largest agencies in Europe – independent, fully integrated – and then a visit to a small island in the Bois de Boulogne, where we were met by Saatchi & Saatchi EMEA head Robert Senior, who laid out the picture of Saatchi in the here and now. Fascinating reinvention of the agency.

We met with two independent agencies in the afternoon, Fred & Farid, and then Buzzman.

FF is a fully integrated agency, born from digital, with a stellar range of clients and exceptional creative work, plus a new office in Shanghai as well as offices in Europe.

Buzzman, a digital specialist which outsources all of its technology and thus can choose from the very best, was another interestingly independent French agency, with an office in Paris and the intention of opening in the Middle East.

Superb campaigns for Bic and Durex gave the consultants fun and laughter before we headed off to the Havas Group meeting with Euro RSCG and BETC. Judging the Creative Business Idea Awards for Euro is one of the tasks that the consultants complete each year at the summit.

BETC – a newly formed division of Havas – spent a lot of time telling us about its growth and plans before steering us to more wine-tasting and cheeses than we could ever manage. The views across Paris from its agency building are just superb.

Thirty tired consultants arrived back at the hotel just before midnight, having spent 14 hours on the road, without a break, but all ready for day three of the summit and an opening meeting with Publicis Groupe head Maurice Levy at breakfast.