AdForum Worldwide Summit LA: How to win the convergence race.

by Philippe Paget on October 25, 2016


AdForum Worldwide Summit LA: How to win the convergence race



What was different about this leg of the 2016 AdForum Worldwide Summit is that, in Los Angeles, the influence of Hollywood, the artist agencies, literary and film content has a huge bearing upon marketing communications locally and globally. And over four days we met with those key players, along with 11 of the legendary agencies in the city.

LA is a large sprawling city, nothing like New York. It’s very similar to Johannesburg in layout ie suburbs, big buildings, modern adjacent to ancient, big highways, and appalling traffic. But it’s laid back and we were staying a hotel in Santa Monica a stone’s throw from the beach — a complete contrast to NYC.

Once again, we were taken around in a coach, allowing us time to see the city, see the surroundings and talk to each other after each visit. Just the most fun.

Day 1 — Los Angeles — Saturday 8 October

Yes, folks, we pitch consultants do work agency hours, and the two agencies we met with on Saturday had put an enormous amount of effort and work into their respective meetings with us. We flew to LA on Saturday morning (a six-hour flight) and then were three hours behind NYC time, nine hours behind South Africa.

Agencies visited

  • KBS+: part of the MDC network
  • Chandelier: independent and proud of it

KBS+ opened in LA because it needed to and it wanted to create something relevant to LA. For that reason, it is creating opportunities for young key influencers to develop their talents and careers. It is all very experimental, and the social media wing of KBS+, About Attention, will then use these opportunities for clients. Examples such as Infatuation, a restaurant guide and food blog created through Instagram, and a photography influencer who is using major new photographic equipment for self-filming and production, were used to illustrate what is ground-breaking in this particular area.

Creative agency Chandelier had prepared a whole presentation based upon the marriage of style and substance, literally showcased in a wedding. Beautifully scripted and choreographed, it created an unforgettable spectacle that the consultants will remember forever. Using actors and creatives to illustrate its  ethos, we were treated to a full “wedding celebration”. Creative, above line, integrated, using all forms of channels — this is the agency for today’s market.

Key learnings

As long as agencies remain committed to new levels of creativity and are prepared to invest, they will be successful with clients.

Day 2 — Los Angeles — Sunday 9 October

Agency visited

  • Anomaly: one of the most successful agency groups in the world

Anomaly has NO TIME SHEETS! Output-based contracts and incentive-based fees. Its margins are easily above 20%, sometimes as high as 29%. Most of its clients are on performance-based contracts. It has just opened in LA and is dramatically expanding its in-house production facilities, shooting more film and doing post-production. It has also made a fundamental commitment to data and is building software that provides actionable intelligence. 2016 has been its best year to date.

With them, after the update, we watched the second Presidential Debate with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—an education!

Key learnings

Agencies and marketers which are brave enough to try out incentive-based output contracts make far more money than those trapped in the time-sheet downward spiral.

Day 3 — Los Angeles — Monday 10 October

Agencies visited

Hylink: digital solutions agency

  • Red Hour: film and content company
  • Applied VR: Lieberman Research Worldwide
  • ICM Partners: talent and literary agency
  • TBWA\CHIAT\DAY: legendary agency
  • CAA Marketing: marketing agency within the world’s leading entertainment and sports agency

Hylink is the largest in China, with 15 offices plus one in NYC and another in LA. Independent, 2200 digital professionals. Digital spend in China increases 45% per annum!

Red Hour has Ben Stiller as a partner. Moving into branded content more and more.

Applied VR demonstrated the real value of Virtual Reality and what this can do for brands, people and communities.

ICM Partners: “Brands will be the next great producers.” “Advertising budgets will become profit centres, not cost centres.” Short-form digital content for brands — distribute on the web. 600 people worldwide.

TBWA/CHIAT/DAY: its Backs\ash technology produces Disruption Live, a daily monitor of observations from all over the world with 200 spotters, made into videos on a daily basis and distributed throughout the TBWA network. Unbelievable investment in its business, which is paying off to the extent that it has an 87% success rate in pitches and has built a fully functional editorial team as part of its agency offering. The top team had just been in SA, pitching on MTN — more news it hopes very soon.

CAA Marketing: 75 people within the marketing agency; top team is all ex-advertising. “The best brands in the world go beyond interruptive advertising to generate and participate in popular culture.” “Brands will increasingly use their funds to create content relevant to their audiences.”

Day 4 — Los Angeles — Tuesday 11 October

Agencies visited

  • MullenLowe
  • Screen Vision Media: cinema screen advertising and media owner

MullenLowe was one of the best agency visits this trip. Its merger has worked — 12 months on — and it’s still the world’s most-effective agency network. The LA agency has seen huge growth and has also invested in PR people, social media and content production. Its YETI production facility enables it to deliver overnight and accurately.

Screen Vision Media again often directly works with clients, not via agencies. Content creation and integration.

Key learnings

Ad agencies that focus on their own production facilities and build PR and social in house in a meaningful way are winning the convergence race.

And that’s a wrap of the Los Angeles report.


AdForum Worldwide Summit NYC: Highlights — a look into the future.

by jeff finkle on October 25, 2016


AdForum Worldwide Summit NYC: Highlights — a look into the future.

by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell)

At this latest AdForum Worldwide Summit, the 15th that has occurred since this event started and the eighth that I’ve attended, we had seven days of meetings with industry players: agencies of all types, selected media owners and the American National Advertisers Association. Plus we met in New York and Los Angeles — some intrepid consultants even went on to San Francisco for final meetings there with tech startups, Facebook and Google. So it was an exceptional summit, with all that this entails.

The content that we glean at these summits helps us to understand what will happen next in agencies and it helps us to advise marketers of the future of the industry. There is no question of the value that this event adds to our work with agencies. I also benefit from interacting with other consultants in the world who do like work, and the opportunity to share best practice in pitch management, agency relationship management, merger and acquisitions is just invaluable.

This year’s summary includes all of the agencies we visited and one key highlight from each day.

Three days in New York City: 16 agency and company visits

Day 1 — New York City — Wednesday 5 October 2016

Agencies visited

  • Critical Mass: digital/design/activations
  • AI Media Group: CRM
  • ANA: American Association of National Advertisers
  • Hearts & Science: media agency — data driven only — within the OMD group
  • IRIS: full integrated global agency — recently acquired by Cheil
  • The Foundry: activations

Key highlight/insight of the days

Critical Mass shared its thoughts with us concerning today’s consumer. We are living in the midst of an expectations gap between what consumers want and what they can get. This has been created by the disruptor brands such as Uber, Airbnb and Netflix as they have set standards that entrenched brands cannot live up to. Brands need to fully embrace customer centricity through listening, engaging and learning.

Day 2 — New York — Thursday 6 October

Agencies visited

  • VCCP: independent agency group — “ a refugee camp from the networks/holding companies”
  • RGA: one of the world’s favourite agencies — always looking into the future
  • Accenture Interactive: the digital group belonging to the global consulting company — another new competitor to the ad world
  • The Martin Agency: independent agency group dedicated to craft
  • ICrossing: highly successful digital, CRM wing of Hearst group

Key highlight/insights

Accenture Digital/Interactive is a full-service digital offering within the Accenture network — and a whole new era in advertising opens up as the consulting companies start competing. It shared some key trends:

  • You are your content — 90% of business leaders at C-Suite level believe that executives should be responsible for content strategy
  • Know thyself — 65% of content production is being built directly by clients with their own in house studios
  • Internet video will account for 79% of global internet traffic by 2020
  • 52% of marketing professionals will name video as being the best ROI within the marketing tool kit

Day 3 — New York — Friday 7 October

Agencies visited

  • Mother: fully integrated creative agency
  • IBM IX: digital agency within IBM structure
  • Google: who gave away nothing!
  • VSA Partners: creative and strongly digital agency
  • Madras: activations mainly — strong agency originating in India

Key learnings

Nothing beats a ‘cult’ agency such as Mother. Everything it does is done in its own way — even presenting to 30 global pitch consultants entirely via iPhone 7 tech and using the Tinder matchmaking process. Love it or hate them, the agency is unique and very keen to keep on growing — recording a great deal of new business growth that week. This is the kind of agency that everyone wants in a pitch, just to see how it will see things. Its independence is of paramount importance to it, as well as that it can work with whichever media agency it wants to.

And that is the end of the New York report. Next up: highlights from Los Angeles!


Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS). This time, she has deviated from her usual daily reporting format as it doesn’t properly encompass all of the key learnings that pitch consultants are exposed to. She will be doing a full report back, as well as showcasing studies from the agencies, at her upcoming Marketing Masterclass sessions. The Joburg masterclass is on 26 October — which is already heavily booked but there is still place available — and the Cape Town one is on 29 November. Book now!

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Day 3 – 15 April

by Philippe Paget on April 21, 2016

Our Friday and final day started with a bang as we headed out to Soho House for the remaining hours of the 2016 Spring Summit in Berlin.

We greeted our morning over breakfast with the MullenLowe Group presentation. True to form, it was clear, concise and informative. Naomi was her genuinely fabulous self as was the rest of the team. They structured the session around direct feedback from the consultants given following the last Summit as a way of showcasing their work in response to areas needing improvement or deeper understanding. Brilliant form and format. Well done!


From there we went downstairs to the Red Room in the lower level of the Soho House to meet Chris Hercik who leads all content for Time, Inc,’s The Foundry as well as the Sports Illustrated brand portfolio. Chris had just flown in to meet with our illustrious group of consultants and did a fabulous job bringing the evolution and offering of Time, Inc. to life, especially in light of massive technical difficulties we encountered resulting in moving from one room next door to the theatre.

Time inc

Being a great sport he illustrated (no pun intended) without the benefit of visual queues the entire proposition of Time, Inc.. He was lighthearted and full of humour and the close was made that much sweeter when all systems were a “go” and we had the pleasure of seeing visually on the screen what he had just explained so beautifully. The audience was interested and engaged all the way through.


Now that we were settled in and technically set, we assumed that the next presentation with Grey Germany would start without disruption. And we were almost correct as the CMO Chris Pietsch connected his deck to the big screen. After a few more “glitches” we moved smoothly into a straightforward presentation about the German market and Grey Germany’s place within it. As Chris has spent his entire, if not young, career at Grey rising to his current role, he holds a perspective of time and relevance. He did a lovely job and we were left with a strong sense of the agency and its work in this region.

Select worl

Our final presentation of the week was with an agency we visited in New York, Select World, who had a lot more to add to their story when presenting their German team from Hamburg (comprised of a Brit and someone from the US, as well). This agency who built their business around the luxury brand landscape very clearly demonstrated how prestige was just the beginning of the story and why luxury is a great foundation for creating rigorous communications platforms across verticals. The spirit and energy was strong and engaging, in no small part due to the leadership team. We concluded with a sumptuous lunch and then into our “closing ceremony”.


At the end of each Summit, we gather in a room where the attending consultants are given an opportunity to talk about their experience of the last days, give their topline feedback and observations (a teaser of what is to come from their deeper Feedback Questionnaire), and react to AdForum’s thoughts and questions on the next two summits to come. Here we reviewed October’s schedule, received suggestions, and got a sense of who would be attending. We also held a vote on the location for next year’s AdForum Global Summit in April. It is now safe to report …


See in you in New York and Los Angeles this October and Amsterdam in April of 2017!

Logo Summit Berlin

Day 2 – 14 April

by Philippe Paget on April 15, 2016

Started this morning with a breakfast hosted by Robert Senior and Co. and Saatchi and Saatchi.


The venue chosen was MetaHaus (Meta Design) to demonstrate the synergistic new world of the Publicis Communications. An honest, passionate and straight forward message by Robert giving us a real life peak into the future and a direct reminder of what the agency client relationship was, is, and should be.

From there weIMG_7680 traveled across town to the Hirschen Group where we received a very true to German agency message. The team members are thoughtful and commanding and feel strongly about what they do and how to grow.


We then returned close to “home” where we heard from Blackwood Seven on their proprietary  media tool and the impactful influence they are having on brands near and far. Attention was  high and many questions were asked. They are the hit and threat of the media space, so much so that there was a recent (almost) skirmish on the street by someone warning that they should stop what they are doing.

Next in the lineup, after cookies and chocolate, was Robert/Boisen and Likeminded. Here we saw some very disruptive and funny work on how to increase city travel while increasing the Danish population. We also watched them make babies cry and put Valentine’s Day back on the map in a country of self-proclaimed haters of the holiday.

IMG_7684Just when we thought it could not get any better we had the distinct pleasure of being introduced by Publicis Pixelpark to the German tradition THE GERMAN KAFFEEKLATSCH!

We were seated at six tables where the six partners of the business rotated from table to table discussing the agency, their discipline and opening up dialogue. It was engaging and remarkably thorough. A real treat!


Our day ended at the offices of Aperto, the soon to be (as in today) German agency of IBM IX. We met the global team comprised of former agency folks and some lifer IBMers where we learned about their new in-house agency and what they are all about for their long term IBM clients and why they will be a very interesting alternative to future brand relationships. It was a great foundation for them to set for our next time together during our October AdForum Global Summit in New York where, in addition to meeting other teams members, we will meet WATSON.


Can’t wait and for Day 3 …

Day 1 in Berlin

by Philippe Paget on April 14, 2016

 We started our day at the Gorki Apartments, the very cool hotel model where we are staying, made  up apartments in the former East Berlin. After gathering for a welcome lunch at Sauerkraut  Restaurant next door over beer and typical German Tapas (an oxymoron of sorts), we went upstairs  to the penthouse apartment of Gorki and had our kick off meeting with the group of 27 consultants  by AdForum.

Here we presented the agenda for the week, viewed the highlight video from last October’s Summit in New York City, heard from Oliver Klein of Cherry Picker enthusiastically share his vision of the German Advertising landscape, followed by Cesar Vacchiano of Scopen who generously provided us with deep insights on research he had conducted for our first agency of the day, Havas.Havas_logo-png

We arrived at the Soho House Berlin just after 3:00pm for the first ever AdForum CoolLab, a collaborative laboratory wherein the consultant community and agency share an interactive session of ideas, vision and feedback informed by the pre-workshop questionnaire and analysis led by AdForum in advance of the session. Havas bravely embraced this new model and was a part of its maiden voyage. Chris Hirst (CEO Europe) and Tracey Barber (Global CMO) took us through their vision and learnings and engaged the audience in a seamless way and demonstrated how Europe, with Chris in his new role, was going to set the example through the platform of culture for the rest of the Havas family around the world. And this seemed to work so well that Chris is going to deliver this content next month to his Global CEO Summit back here in Berlin.



Our next stop was to the Berlin Philharmoni, where we were hosted by the German agency Scholz & friends, and agency I had the pleasure of visiting while in Hamburg last month to meet their head of Business Development, Sophie Bourgin. Not only did they open with a beautiful cocktail gathering, they also succeeded at weaving in the true culture of their agency through a presentation that did not feel anything like the typical creds we so often see. It was all at once impressive, understated and full of humor. Percy Smend, Partner and CIO, hit every touch-point in the most subtle and appealing manner. He created an experience for us rather than tell us what we should feel. The crescendo came when we were brought into the concert hall for a live performance from the Berlin Symphony. During intermission we were served a lovely dessert and then ended the evening with an invitation by S&F to a beautifully appointed bar for a nightcap. Bravo to the Scholz&friends team!

Processed with MOLDIV


What a great first day ; can’t wait for tomorrow …

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