Oystercatchers at AdForum Worldwide Summit

Key takeaways from our time at AdForum

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Adforum's Worldwide Summit came to an end this week, an event held twice a year where leading intermediaries from across the globe come together to hear on mass from the leaders of some of the best agencies in the world.

Sessions were held with Mark Read (WPP), Andy Main (Ogilvy), Peter Reid (MSQ Partners), Rob VanGorden (The Richards Group), Trevor Guthrie & Marc Simons (Giant Spoon), Jon Wilkins (Accenture), Marty O’Halloran (DDB) and Wendy Clark (Dentsu).

Great insight and learnings were shared on business models, future plans and client best practice. Some of the key takeaways include: 

Addressing integration (without saying integration):

Over the past few years ‘integrated’ has become a dirty word in marketing and communications. Maybe like many things, the overuse of the word devalued its currency. But integration is still a means to an ends to realise business synergies, to answer client briefs or to find growth. Which is why during AdForum, agencies said everything other than ‘integration’ when really, they still meant integrated.

Instead words and phrases such as transformation, erasing silos and collaboration were used. Maybe ‘integration’ – sorry collaboration (!) is actually a sign that integrated firms are responding to real client needs instead of creating techniques to facilitate cross-selling? We'd certainly like to think so...

Forever working from home – or not:

This was a question that came up again and again. Where will employees be in six months’ time? 12 months even? Many groups defended a working from home policy by pointing to the savings: lower pitch costs (no flying, no expensive boards; although we think we can all agree that the personalised pitch and case study videos are eating into any savings made by not printing board), lower overhead costs (except for IT and headaches associated with poor lighting at home), and better access to rural talent (who don’t command the same salaries as cities like New York and London). But these savings don’t scream innovation. They work well now, but they enforce the status quo. And we wonder how long stay at home policies will last once a team loses a multi-million dollar pitch to a team that flew out to see their clients in person.

ESG, it really is here to stay:

It’s not just a marketing theme. Communications groups are remaking themselves through the lens of ESG. This is a real achievement. It’s long overdue, and they should be applauded. For years, one could be forgiven for assuming that only large corporates had the cash flow to be responsible players. But this year’s AdForum proved that there is an ESG solution for every agency. Some have built carbon calculators so their clients know the impact of their ads, others are recruiting a diverse workforce, and others still are dismantling their opaque systems of working to earn trust from their clients. There are real benefits to be gleaned from more effective work to closer client relationships. 

Thanks to everyone involved, we know how tough these sessions are to create and execute.


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