Monthly Review – November

Our Monthly Round-up of the key pieces in Marketing for November – we’ve chosen five key articles and a podcast this month. We have also included ‘a special’ – the Eight Takeaways from the Adforum Worldwide Summit held in London, and a Priority list. Curated specifically for your sector, all our monthly reviews are now available on our website.

Our November highlights:

1. Our Top pick this month is a link to the IPA Effworks. EffWorks Global provides opportunities for brands and agencies to arm themselves with the knowledge needed to navigate Marketing Effectiveness, and improve business performance. Over the last year, with the help of the IPA Effectiveness Leadership group of member agency advisers, industry experts and partners, the IPA have brought together the best effectiveness learning and practice in the three areas of Managing Marketing, Measuring Marketing and Marketing Marketing, and it’s available in one PDF.

Here is the link:

2. Secondly, we’ve picked a piece from the HBR (November and December edition) on Generative AI and Machine learning. Business leaders are struggling to understand how seriously they should take generative AI. It has already displayed breathtaking powers to create new content and is used to do things such as write software, transcribe physicians’ interactions with their patients, and let people converse with a CRM system. But it is far from perfect: It can produce distorted or entirely fabricated output and can be oblivious to privacy and copyright concerns.

Here is the link:

3. Thirdly, we had to pick this piece from Rishad Tobbacowala’s series – the future does not fit in the containers of the past. It’s edition 173 and its on strategy.  Strategy is Future Competitive Advantage. What will the future look like? What will people need and expect? How will demographics, technology and other global shifts create new competitors or recharge current competitors and how will categories blur, blend and maybe even disappear? It’s a good read and he is great to follow.

Here is the link:

4. Fourthly, what next for M&S? We’ve picked a piece from the Moving Tribes substack, an excellent retail read, written by Ian Shepherd, its great to see the turnaround at M&S and what the future holds for the UK high street.

Here is the link:

5. Fifthly, we pick an excellent piece from a substack we follow called – Off to Lunch. It’s written by Graham Ruddick, and this week’s edition looks at Bitcoin and the wider financial services markets.

Here is the link:

6. Sixthly, we’ve gone for a podcast, produced by the MCA, with Andrew Robertson – President & CEO of BBDO Worldwide where he’s worked with some of the world’s biggest brands including Meta, AT&T, FedEx, GE, Mars Inc., PepsiCo, SAP and Wells Fargo. Titled – ‘Understanding the balance between what’s important and what’s interesting’. Andrew has always given us sound feedback & ratings from New York on our Monthly Reviews, so it was time we included him, so he can rate his own. Season 2 Episode 9, a good podcast and there is also a written transcript.

Here is the link:

Media: We’ve become a bit of a fan of the System One Group, Andrew Tindall recently released the John Lewis verdict and Jon Evans has written this blog on covering the top 12 most effective ads this Christmas. It’s congrats to McCann Manchester and Aldi. Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot returned to the top of the list in the most fiercely fought Christmas ad season we’ve seen, with more ads than ever achieving the highest possible test score.

Time for the Work: Well with all these Christmas ads to choose from. We just had to pick the Christmas underdog this month. It’s for Charlies Bar and congrats go to them for this low budget heart-rencher.


Back to Henley: The Christmas lights are shinning brightly in Henley. 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 Justin Simpson of Phyllis Court Club fitness centre.


Adforum Special: The AdForum Summit took place in London in November, bringing together search consultants and agency leadership. Four days, twenty one super agencies, thirty one of the leading consultants from around the world. Along with the global holding companies and networks, the consultants saw exciting creative shops including: Not Perfect, Kairos, Accomplice, Amplify and Fold7.

Our Eight Takeaways from Adforum London 2023:

  • Impact of AI & how it is affecting marketing : Every agency is exploring AI and how it can improve communication efficiency and performance – there will be a shift away from the traditional hours/timesheets, as agencies look to deliver smarter for clients.
  • Need for ROI & Media Performance : We saw fluidity across the marketing ecosystem, a real need for ROI with media performance, and everything streamlining across the marketing ecosystem.
  • Balance between building brand and performance measures : The impactful long and short of advertising, brand building versus promotion was very evident.
  • Convergence of tech & creativity : There is a proliferation of agencies at the intersect of tech and creativity, delivering strong ad serving technologies.
  • Rise of sustainability in campaigns : We at last saw campaigns with longevity that are heading in the direction of net zero and sustainability.
  • Ability to connect with Gen Z’ers : Encouraging younger audiences into brands- we saw some fantastic agencies in this space, that are super ambitious, savvy and fearless.
  • Growth of agency new business opportunities : How agencies are innovating and flexing to win them,  we saw examples of how agencies were acquiring new clients through innovative acquisitions of agencies, being far more creative and commercially led.
  • Emergence of young marketing agency talents : It really was a case of London at it’s very best, encouraging, nurturing, positivity, creativity, fantastic presenters, a showcase for young entrepreneurs, and lots of AI too.

What ChatGPT said:

With thirty one consultants, all giving their individual feedback, Adforum prompted ChatGPT to provide the Priority list – i.e, the 5 most important/frequent key points quoted by the consultants.

  • Restructuring Holding Companies:

-        Participants emphasized that traditional holding company structures are outdated and require streamlining and improvement.

-        Increased consolidation of agencies in creative and media spaces was noted, highlighting the need for adaptation to new technologies.

  • Serious Consideration of AI:

-          AI is recognized as a significant and enduring trend in the industry, with agencies investing at all levels.

-          The practical and useful applications of AI, particularly in saving time on mundane tasks, were highlighted.

  •  Technology, Data, and Processes Attract Clients:

-          Clients are increasingly attracted to agencies that showcase expertise in technology, data analytics, and efficient processes.

-          The value of AI in production efficiencies, delivering work at scale while saving costs and full-time equivalents (FTEs), was highlighted.

  •  Importance of Differentiation:

-          Agencies face challenges in standing out due to increasing similarities and the expansion of services, making differentiation more crucial than ever.

-          The focus on being part of culture and media agnosticism was identified as a key narrative, emphasizing the difficulty of achieving standout status.

  • Shift in Holding Companies vs. New networks Dynamics:

-          Holding companies are consolidating and facing financial challenges, while new networks are growing rapidly with private equity investment.

-          New networks are learning from the mistakes of legacy holding companies, making strategic acquisitions to avoid overlaps in offerings.

These key points provide insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by advertising agencies, ranging from structural changes to the integration of AI and the ongoing importance of differentiation in a competitive landscape.

Driving growth today requires a renewed focus on relevance. We are here to help you with your agency ecosystem, resourcing structures, and benchmarking to improve your marketing performance, do give us a call with any questions we can help you with.

Wishing you, and your family a very Merry Christmas.

Kind regards,



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