WILL HAMILTON is the owner of Hamilton Associates, a consultancy which he set up five years ago. Born in Kent, his family moved to Bristol when he was one. He became a boarder at St Edward’s School, Oxford, followed by Kingston University where he earned a degree in business studies. He has lived in Henley for 22 years and has been a town councillor for the last eight, serving as deputy mayor in 2016/17. He is keen following of sport, especially rugby and rowing. He will take part in the London Marathon in April for the first time. His main love is the river and he owns a slipper launch on which he spends many happy hours with his partner Joanne Cope, who works for British Airways as senior cabin crew.
Describe your business
Hamilton Associates is an intermediary, helping clients to get the best from their communication partners. We advise on agency search and selection, negotiate remuneration and focus on optimising marketing relationships to achieve exceptional performance.
How many people does it employ?
I work alone but have many associated partnerships.
What did you do before you started this business?
When I was at university I had an intern scholarship at the University of North Carolina and subsequently took a masters degree in marketing. I became a graduate trainee at Asprey’s in New York and then a marketing executive for British Airways. Those two roles introduced me to the importance of managing brands. When I returned to Britain, I worked with some major marketing and advertising companies, becoming marketing director for McCann Erickson and Publicis.
When did you start your business?
What was your objective?
I wanted to use my experience to become an intermediary and have a better work/life balance.
Who or what influenced you?
It just felt right. I saw other pioneers setting up on their own and thought, “why not do the same?”
Do you have a mentor or role model?
I worked at Agency Assessments International for five years and Peter Cowie made a big impact on me. Every six months I meet with Murray Chick and Ian Armstrong who have become good mentors.
What would you do differently if you started again?
Looking back, I should have had more process. I didn’t really have a proper structure or business plan.
How is your business doing?
It has been quite a tough year and achieving top line growth has been hard.
How do you market your business?
Referrals are a major source of new business. Networking is a vital part of my marketing strategy. I’m a regular at the Henley Business Partnership’s monthly 3FM meetings. I follow marketing directors who I’ve done work for when they change jobs — I reconnect.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
I enjoy the flexibility and being able to do other things. It enables me to carry out my role as a councillor, which accounts for a good 10 hours of my time each week.
What’s the most challenging aspect?
Making it all fit together in terms of prioritising.
Where is your business headed?
We’re warmed up, so now is the time to ramp it up.
Do you have a five-year plan?
Yes. The advertising industry is changing rapidly and it’s currently a cacophony of chaos. It’s a challenge to help clients understand how to navigate through what’s happening. I’m optimistic that this will present us with some great opportunities.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
The importance of listening to clients, having empathy and showing diplomacy as well as continually learning.
What would you advise someone starting a business?
Carefully think through why you are doing it. It’s extraordinary what you can achieve if you believe! Develop a network of people with experience and meet lots of different people. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” in answer to a question.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Expecting to win everything I’ve pitched for. I’m a sensitive soul but now accept that I won’t win every proposal.
How organised are you?
Reasonably. I can’t stand people who are late.
What’s the secret of your success?
Being good at networking and having the ability to work with different people and helping them succeed.
What three qualities are most important in business?
Ability. Having a positive attitude and being prepared to work hard.
How do you dress for work?
Business casual. Ties only come out for weddings, funerals and Henley Royal Regatta.
What can’t you do without every day?
Lunch at your desk or going out?
Generally on the run. I’m a grazer.
Do you continue to study?
Yes, I read lots of business books.
What else do you read?
Lots of council papers. The Henley Standard as soon as it comes out each week.
How are you planning for retirement?
Everyone in my age group is almost certainly going to work longer, probably until we are 70. Eventually I want to play more golf and spend more time on the river.
A Dramatic Cacophony of Chaos
Will Hamilton, of Hamilton Associates, reports from last week’s 17th Adforum Worldwide Summit in New York.
Last week was the busiest week of the year for Agency Search Intermediaries and Pitch Management Consultants. Some thirty of the leading consultants gathered in New York to meet with advertising industry leaders, holding companies, independents, brand-tech, media champions, entrepreneurs, and digital pioneers.
The AdForum Worldwide Summit is a “by invitation only” program for Agency Search & Management Consultants and Global Agencies CEOs.
Representing the UK, were the AAR, Hamilton Associates, ISBA, Observatory International, Oystercatchers, and Tina Fegent Consulting, Other consultants gathered from across the globe, including:- Brand & Business Architects (Amsterdam), DNCC (Copenhagen) Breezeway (Helsinki), Pitchville (Paris), The Producer Int’l (Milan), Roth, Ryan Hayes, External View, (USA) Agency Selection (SA), Cherry Picker (Hamburg) Scopen (Madrid), and Management Consultancy-Navigare. (Sydney)
Waiting to receive the attendees in uptown and downtown New York and Brooklyn offices, (including one venue on the 84th floor of the new Freedom tower) were twenty-three Leadership teams with inspiring creative case studies and ground breaking presentations, which included a meeting update from newly appointed Joint WPP COO Mark Read, and Lindsay Pattison the WPP Chief Transformation Officer.
This years’ participating agencies included: CP+B, DDB Worldwide, Dentsu Aegis Network, Escape Pod, Fly Communications, Grey Worldwide, Havas, IBM Ix, Kiip, MDC, Mullen Lowe Group, Oath, Phenomenon, Project Worldwide, R/GA, Service Plan, SS&K, TBWA Collective, The Media Kitchen, Vice Virtue, Work & Co, WPP, and You & Mr Jones.
Eight recurring themes emerged during the week: -
- Top line growth for heritage agencies is increasingly hard to achieve in what was described as ‘a dramatic cacophony of chaos in the advertising market.’ Some agencies are rapidly transforming, some are already well set up to drive growth, it’s fast changing and a complex market.
- A feeling for some that the holding company model is broken. Agencies are reviewing the latest round of changes and looking to see what model is best fit for purpose, putting data and technology at the heart of the business. In-housing is a trend that continues.
- Agility and flexible working, and/or partnering with clients is fast becoming the norm. New brand platforms at speed are possible, particularly when working with the bigger consultancies, clients seem willing to pay a premium if agencies/consultancies move fast.
- Agencies are beginning to present a fiscal edge that focuses the organisation and communications ecosystem towards share price, as well as planning, creativity and effectiveness.
- There are two distinct economies – legacy brands which compete with disruptive innovators. Companies that predate the digital revolution and companies that now have asymmetrical competitors eg Amazon competes with Walmart.
- Voice led communications will have more prominence. Mobile first campaigns have accelerated this year, but voice is becoming prominent. Be warned by 2020, 50% of all searches on the internet will be voice led.
- Google and Facebook’s dominance is unwavering – despite privacy issues – a statistic we were presented showed that Google and Facebook account for 99% of all advertising growth. Amazon in many sectors is transforming the retail experience.
- The advertising industry is declining, digital spend is transforming the industry. Perhaps, creativity will be the last legal means of differentiation.
The highlights of the week for me, were a very strong presentation by Global CEO Wendy Clark, at DDB, sharing outstanding creative work from McDonald’s, (International Women’s Day), Marmite, Skittles, and John Lewis.
A very diverse and brilliantly well presented session by TBWA Collective with a dynamic all female line-up. It’s been three and a half years since Global CEO, Troy Ruhanen, took over and the achievements are significant. He has particularly focused on getting the gender balance right, highlighting that, when he took over, only three of the 35 country CEOs were women. Since then, the number of female CEOs is up by 15%, female CSOs by 28% and female creative directors up by 29%. And to prove the point, fantastic creative work for Amazon Alexa and Hostelworld, presented so eloquently, by London hero Helen Calcraft.
It was significant and impressive that the newly appointed joint COO of WPP, Mark Read came to New York to talk to the consultants, with an update on the recent changes at WPP along with Chief Transformation Officer Lindsay Pattison. Our view is that WPP are trying to be much more open. It’s ‘BAU at WPP – with a fresh flair’. They are listening hard, and ensuring they absolutely flex to their clients changing needs.
And finally, again a seminal presentation by R/GA, – who have reinvented themselves five times every nine years – it knows how to disrupt itself. There strategic presentation, ability and presence rates them truly worldclass - a 10/10 from me.
For the Intermediaries and Consultants it’s a week of intense meetings with Leadership teams – but we return, with a desire to see – how can we assist in building topline growth for both our clients and agencies alike. Finally – an interesting statistic presented – we touch our mobile phones on average of 2617 times a day. Is it time to call your Intermediary/ Pitch Management Consultant for some timely and ground breaking advice?
Will Hamilton reports on Trends in New York and LA from the Adforum Summit and how they affect CMOs here.
Having been a key member of the Adforum World Summit for the last five years (the Worldwide summit of the leading 25 intermediary consultants from around the world) I thought I would ‘turn the telescope’, and give an independent view ‘for clients’ on what’s trending ‘over there’ – some key learning’s that may help clients managing the performance of their agencies here.
There is an ‘egg breaking’ shift in the way agencies are structuring themselves for the future and this stretches way beyond advertising. The agency resourcing model is changing very fast and it is evolving.
The 15th Adforum Worldwide Summit met with 36 of the top creative agencies, media agencies, tech start-ups, data, digital and direct agencies, global consultancies, content providers, production companies, and even the American National Advertisers Association (ANA). Continue Reading