Monthly Review – May

Our Monthly Round-up of the key pieces in Marketing for May – we’ve chosen five key articles, and a new blog. Curated for you to peruse in your downtime, all our monthly reviews are now available on our website. This month we also bring you the highlights from the Adforum Worldwide Summit held in New York.

Our May highlights:

1. Our top pick this month is a compelling piece on client’s cutting budgets?  Gartner’s Annual CMO Spend Survey Reveals 2024 Average Budgets Have Fallen by 15%, As CMOs Pursue Growth in the ‘Era of Less’. Average marketing budgets have fallen to 7.7% of overall company revenue, down from 9.1% in 2023, according to a Gartner, Inc. survey of 395 CMOs and marketing leaders.

Here is the link:

2. Secondly, we have picked the latest Forrester Wave Q2 Report for Commerce Services. This report shows how each provider measures up and helps technology, marketing, and digital business leaders select the right one for their needs. It’s the one study that tracks where each of the holding companies are headed.

Here is the link:

3. Thirdly, it’s a seriously good piece on ‘art and creativity being unleashed’ by Rishad Tobaccowala’s series – ‘The future does not fit in the containers of the past’ It is an excellent read. Here he unleashes how AI will change the world.

Here is the link:

4. Fourthly, we had to pick a short article by Mark Ritson this month. The effectiveness expert Peter Field and author of The Long and the Short of It explains how pre-testing has led to more effective ads, focusing on emotional response.

Here is the link:

5. Fifthly, Sir John Hegarty has a new blog on the business of creativity and it’s well worth following. A bulletin for big ideas and better business.

Here is the link:

6. Sixthly, we had to pick this piece in and we have also picked the following book below by Michael Farmer. At the end of January, Interpublic Group (IPG) announced that Huge’s chief product officer, Lisa de Bonis, was replacing Mat Baxter as CEO of the agency. For anyone who had read Madison Avenue Makeover, this was a big deal.

Here is the link:

Book Alert: We picked up a copy of Michael Farmer’s latest book Madison Avenue makeover. Its an interesting read given Baxter presented their bold vision to the Adforum in 2022. Michael Farmer’s book is a fly-on-the-wall account of Baxter’s efforts to save Huge from stagnation by reinventing the digital agency as a growth acceleration company that sold creative services as fixed-price products. The book highlights the most successful agencies know creativity devoid of results for clients does not grow a business. The riveting story of Huge’s journey through its transformation, with a revised mission, a new line of fixed-price products, and a single global organization that would permit Huge to help its clients accelerate their top line growth rates. What Baxter failed to do was to understand his customers needs – and failed to ask what his client’s really wanted.


Media: Hot off the press, we came across this great piece on Goodstuff and their new business learnings.

Podcast: We thought it was time for a monthly Podcast – this one from Ian Millner is simply superb Entrepreneurs in the Wild – Global ad agency founder Ian Millner’s on a mission to tap into the alternative mindset of the entrepreneur. Each week he invites a new guest to join him on a journey to the Wild Side and discuss exactly what made them challenge the status quo. From ‘What’s your why?’ to the future of AI, join Ian exploring the future of creative entrepreneurship.

Time for the Work: It’s congratulations to Marmite and DDB New York this month, for their Marmite Smugglers ad. It’s a piece of business that everyone in the agency wants to work on, and well… you either love it or hate it! Alex Lubar we are a fan!

Our Adforum Highlights: This year, 32 Intermediary/Consultants from across the world, met in New York at the Adforum Worldwide Summit – with 26 agencies from across all marketing disciplines. Not surprisingly, AI was the centre of focus. Faster, better, cheaper – it’s now possible to have it all. Each consultant was asked for their key three findings for the week, and we asked ChatGPT to synthesize your answers.


So here is the result:-

*Impact of AI on the Industry*
The seminar participants widely agreed that AI is set to radically transform the industry. AI is already influencing operations and production, and its role will expand to include real-time strategic improvements. This technology will both disrupt existing structures and create new opportunities, leading to significant changes in industry dynamics. There is a consensus that agencies must embrace AI to remain competitive, as those that fail to adapt risk obsolescence.

*Importance of Creativity and Talent*
Despite the rise of AI, creativity remains a central element of the industry. Agencies with strong strategic and creative talents, particularly those that understand and integrate new technologies, will continue to thrive. The unique human element in creativity and strategic thinking is irreplaceable, underscoring the ongoing need for high-quality talent and innovative thinking.

*Evolution of Agency Models and Structures*
The traditional agency model is under pressure, with a clear trend towards the consolidation of services and the integration of multidisciplinary offerings. Holding companies are underperforming, with independent and innovative agencies gaining ground. Models like MediaMonks that combine creative and technological expertise are seen as well-suited for the future. Additionally, there is an increasing focus on cultural relevance and community engagement as key strategies for connecting with modern audiences, particularly younger generations like Gen Z.

Overall, the industry is poised for a significant transformation driven by AI, but the human touch in creativity and strategic thinking, as well as the evolution of agency models, will play crucial roles in navigating this change.

Are ‘thirty two’ Consultants better than ‘one’? I wholly believe so. But, you can ask me for a more detailed presentation of what we learnt – and it’s fascinating.

Back to Henley: If you’re coming to Henley Royal Regatta, or the Henley Festival this summer, please do get in touch.Our weekly column in the Henley Standard continues where we interview local entrepreneurs. It’s called Let’s Get Down to Business. We were delighted this month to interview Jo Bausor, the CEO of the Henley Festival.

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We are here to help you with your agency ecosystem, growth plans, resourcing structures and benchmarking to improve your marketing performance – do give us a call for a catch-up to see how we can help you and your teams.

Kind regards,


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