Monthly Review – May

Our Monthly Round-up of the key pieces in Marketing for May – we’ve chosen four key articles, and two podcasts – if you missed any of them, have some time they are well worth a catchup. All our monthly reviews are available on our website.

The pandemic has taught clients what they need:- fast, agile, and efficient working agencies.

We’ve included a bit of special in this Month’s Review, eight highlights from the Adforum Summit, held virtually. It’s where the agencies meet with 80 of the top consultants/intermediaries from around the world to update us on their leadership teams and latest developments.

1. Our top pick comes from McKinsey this month, on building new workforce skills at scale in order to thrive post the pandemic, and it’s a very interesting read.

Here is the link:

2. Second, we pick Ian Whittaker’s piece titled ‘The Return of Agencies’, Ian goes into some detail analysing the Agency Q1 results. Tankers v Speedboats, he has recently become a City AM regular contributor.

Here is the link:

3. Third, we pick a piece that first appeared in Campaign Asia, and being a fan of Byron Sharp, his name pops up in so many pitch briefs, we felt it was time to give you the Byron Sharp update.

Here is the link:

4. Fourth, we pick a podcast from Founder and CEO David Jones and partner Emma Cookson of Brad tech firm, You and Mr Jones, one we always follow. David and Emma join Campaign Chemistry US to talk about the brand tech model of the future.

Here is the link:

5. Fifth, we pick a second podcast from the US with Paul Cowan. We featured his new book last month – Connecting with Clients. Paul talks about the power of self-awareness being the cornerstone of good client relationships, and the paucity of companies investing in training. It’s 18 minutes of listening – he also has a blog which he hopes will become a learning community.

Here is the link:

6. Sixth, we conclude this month’s pick by including this fabulous piece by Rishad Tobaccowala on leadership this month. All part of his series ‘The Future Does Not Fit in the Containers of the Past’ edition 42, and once again an absolutely must read.

Here is the link:

Time for the Work: We’ve picked the work for Google this month, brilliantly created by Uncommon London. Coinciding with the lifting of lockdown and the promise of school holidays, Google has partnered News UK and Channel 4 to help the British public get the most out of the summer. Brilliant!

Media: We think it’s time you put Statechery in your media reading stack, there are so many good articles on here, it’s often difficult to choose one.

Adforum Summit: For the last eight years, we have attended the Adforum Summit, this one was virtually delivered once again. We met with: WPP’s Mark Read, Ogilvy, MSQ Partners, The Richards Group, Giant Spoon, Accenture Interactive, McCann Worldgroup, Adstream, DDB Worldwide, and finally the new team from dentsu international – led by Global CEO Wendy Clark.

Eight Highlights from the Adforum Summit:

  • Market Positivity – With agency Q1 results fairly positive across the board, market positivity is returning, clients are looking to return to pre-pandemic spend levels, configuration is key, though topline agency growth remains sporadic. The pace of change has permanently changed markets, growth now comes through experience and new relevance.
  • What the Pandemic has taught clients – To seek what they need:- fast, agile, and efficient working agencies. Wendy Clark summed it up saying “It’s about giving clients what they need – not what we’ve got.” dentsu’s presentation was a strong message of connected and singular vision, taking complexities out of the agency’s structure.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – We saw many agencies present their diversity, equity and inclusion goals, we saw some fantastic presenters from diverse cultures. We also saw some great new work, particularly strong was the  Mastercard ‘True name’ work through McCann which just goes from strength to strength.
  • Creativity is the most powerful force in business – This was Bill Bernback’s view, but Marty O’Halloran and his DDB leadership team showed us how they were re-imaging the future – what that means today and how they will grow tomorrow. It’s built around work that you never thought you would see, it’s about unlocking growth – Unexpected Works.
  • Experience – Companies are looking to pivot from recovery back to growth. For the first time the majority of consumers are choosing product & services on experience in a new value set ahead of price and quality. All are buying on values and are willing to pay more.
  • Blending Creativity with Technology and Purpose – We are seeing a number of agencies pursue the blending to degrees of creativity with technology and purpose. Accenture Interactive showed us a game-changer in their pursuit of Jaguar Land Rover, an impressive top team they shared their new work showing a personalised customer experience with creativity and technology at its core.
  • Gaming – 87% of internet users are playing online games in some shape or form, which offers huge opportunity for brands to reach this massive audience and we saw how several agencies are investing in new talent in this area. We saw an excellent case history from Chennai – India for food delivery service, Swiggy.
  • Purpose – Clients are re-assessing the role of marketing, shapeshifting the organisation. There is a new customer obsession which is much more strategic and a re-assessment of touchpoints. Agencies are being pursued to provide ‘a click up’ for new growth, and new purpose.

Back to Henley: The Regatta Summer Fireworks have been the signature firework display in Henley for many years, but with the ever-changing Covid conditions we have decided to put them on hold this year. Our thanks go to Fantastic Fireworks, a great company who have safely supported us for many years.

We are here to help you with your agency resourcing structures, agency reviews, and benchmarking to improve your marketing performance.


It would be great to catch up on anything we can help you with.

Kind regards,


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