Industry leading marketers gathered for the Oystercatchers Club evening at The Mayfair Hotel where Suki Thompson, CEO hosted an esteemed panel that asked the question: what is the power of a modern partnership?

The panel of experts comprised: The Olympic partnership: Bill Sweeney, CEO British Olympic Association, Bobby Brittain, previous CMO of Coca-Cola now Head of Marketing and Partnerships at Godolphin and Sophie Goldschmidt – Group MD, CSM. The Arts and Education partnership: Sir Ciarán Devane – CEO, British Council and Jenny Waldman, Director 14-18 Now. The New Publishing partnership represented by Pulse Creative: David Dinsmore, COO, News UK, Johnny Hornby, Chairman & CEO, The&Partnership and Jamie Hart, Executive director of Tabcorp.

A modern partnership is needed to attract and keep a modern customer. It is also there to challenge, excite and make money.

In a constantly changing media landscape, where Apple considers technology four years old to be vintage and competitive options are a click away, how do brands stay relevant and in vogue?  How do brands and their agencies create exciting, clear channels to speak to their customers in the manner to which they have grown accustomed? Or even better, in a new way that’s a first for fun, ease and insight not to mention lucrative for the partnership?

Marketers need to be, “reinvented” according to Johnny Hornby, Chairman & CEO, The&Partnership.

An answer today will not solve a question tomorrow. The traditional single partnership of one brand, one agency isn’t enough to cover the full partnership now. A partnership of agencies need to work together to tackle and explore what the brand now needs. Which is people bringing their different expertise to the table. “As an industry if we don’t do it we’re in trouble. Particularly, clients that are challenged by their environment like newspapers, retail and banking or those that need to move fast. They need new models of partnership.”

“Pulse Creative’s new model allows new conversations to happen with clients who wouldn’t have considered The Times or The Sun before” said Dave Dinsmore, COO, News UK.

Sophie Goldschmidt, Group MD, CSM explained that partnerships are much more synergetic, innovative and educational for example a bank in Rio educating the children of Rio about the heritage of the Olympics. Whilst partnerships were fundamental to medals at Rio, brand partnerships are no longer just at gold, silver or bronze level.

Brands need to be brave and partner with people to bring the arts and culture to the masses.

“Culture is to London as the sun is to Spain: it’s why people come. The ability to influence through the arts is huge.” Jenny Waldman, Director of First World War Centenary Cultural Programme.

Imagination & flexibility is key. When combined with technology the education potential allows the British Council to connect with the next generation in north Africa and India where the automatic relationship that existed with their grandparents doesn’t exist. “A teacher can beam in education from one country to students in another” Sir Ciarán Devane, CEO, British Council.

Dave Dinsmore explained how The Sun’s £9.50 opera tickets took opera to a whole new audience. Brand funding allows things to happen. The GB Olympic Association and the British Council both credit their success to the brands as the bankers.

Good partnerships magnify national pride.

Each medal cost the country £4.4 million, that’s £1 a person a day, but it was worth it for the feel good factor and national pride explained Bill.

Ciarán highlighted that The British Council was created as brand marketing for the UK to counter fascism. By partnering with cultural resources and educating people about the UK they were less likely to attack us.

Brands need to be a force for good.

Partnerships can encourage new positive behaviour like 892,000 people turning off their televisions and going to play sport during the hour ITV went off air thanks to the partnership with The National Lottery Bill Sweeney explained.

Bobby Brittain highlighted his future partnerships should strive to be, “non-financial” partnerships. Godolphin is currently partnered with sports clothing company Under Armour to create kit for the jockeys and Stud team, where, “no money has exchanged hands. It’s very much a partnership of mutual interest.”

Brittain says data is hugely important to any partnership, but can be a challenge when not shared between partners so we have to look how sharing data can help.

So what are the ingredients of good partnerships?

Bill: clear mutual benefit – find the sweet spot.

Jamie: trust in a common vision then the issue of sharing data is overshadowed.

Bobby: mutuality of need ideally where no money changes hands.

Johnny: must be equitable to drive long term, sustainable partnership.

Sophie: innovative, flexible attitude where people are open minded.

Dave: realise you can’t do everything yourself. Hire in people that can help.

Jenny: imagination that allows you to break out of the tried and tested. Don’t just arrive with your list of needs, expect the unexpected.

Ciaran: scale to out collaborate & out partner the competition.

Or as the taxi driver told Suki on the way to the event – If your partner doesn’t make you feel amazing and if you don’t feel better about yourself by being with them – bin them!

So do something you can’t do on your own, partner with someone who needs it as much as you and realise the real win – like all good things in life – can’t always be seen in the profit margin.

To read more about the evening, please see, The Drums’ or Marketing Weeks Review of the Club event.

Our next Club event, the Oystercatcher Awards takes place on 22 November. The deadline for entries is 10 October. Please contact Sophie at if you’d like to join us.

14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, is looking for partners for their 2018 season of extraordinary arts events. If you’d like to hear more about the tour of the ceramic Poppies or a major art event commemorating 100 years since women got the vote, contact