What are your transformation priorities?


tw“I get 200 emails a day, and 3 quarters of them are people breathlessly telling me about their wonderful solution that will change my life. Some percentage of them are probably right but I don’t begin to have enough time to read all those emails let alone answer them… it is one of my greatest sources of anxiety: how do I keep up? How do I know what’s going on?  How do I know what I need to know?”

Peter Horst CMO Hershey from CMOs at work

It’s our role in agencies to answer this question, and every year at  MediaCom’s annual Transformation Week we convene the latest, most crucial information to make sure that we see the bigger picture.

What’s hype, what’s real, what’s transformational?

Our MediaCom experts, inspirers, agitators, our colleagues from WPP and Group M, our partners at media owners come together for what amounts to a festival of transformation.

This year Transformation Week was September 20th-24th.  There were 25 brilliant sessions with over 2300 attendees, and overall attendance was up year on year by over a quarter.

There’s too much content to rattle through in one blog.  All the sessions are available to view here, and we’re really grateful to everyone who participated.

Here’s some of the most crucial themes:


Mark Read, WPP’s ceo and Dame Carolyn McCall, ceo of ITV spoke to news anchor Nina Hussein, about business transformation, and united in agreeing what is a key overall theme of this year’s Transformation Week:  acceleration.  Strategies for business development and particularly digital transformation are frequently in place and are sound.  What is necessary now is speed, and very often new skills and ways of working.

Make sure you’re informed, but also trust your instincts:

MediaCom ceo Kate Rowlinson and Group M ceo Karen Blackett met to discuss setting the agenda for the future.  They talked about the role we can all play in creating a better fairer society through our work, and the importance of trusting your gut, listening to your instincts for doing the right thing.

Transform not just what you do but how you work:

Working in new ways was a key theme of MediaCom’s client session where Kerry Chilvers, brands director from DLG, Catherine Lees director of consumer strategy from Sky and Nick Ashley head of media and planning from Tesco spoke with MediaCom head of planning James Parnum and their respective agency leads, Catherine Pronzato, Hannah McWilliam and Rebecca Davies about the future of client and agency partnerships.  Smashing silos, creating one team of agency and client talent and working in an Agile way were key take outs of this insightful session.

The power of an Agile approach to digital transformation was explained by Steve Peters and Dave Heath from Code: using a powerful technique – the “How might we…?” question, they drove millions in extra revenue for one client by taking their booking systems online.

And there was much much more:

Jane Wolfson introduced an insightful session with top editors at Hearst by revealing that 1 in 2 people feel that they have lost a sense of identity during the pandemic.

This was also reflected on in Facebook’s session where I discussed the impact of the lockdown on the careers of many women, with Michelle McElvoy, and how allyship can make a real difference.  I raised the point that there should be a cross industry initiative to diminish any harm that social can create.

Global talked about the power of podcasts to help tackle taboos because they’re private, intimate, and friendly.  Yet delivering them well requires new skills and a change in approach.

We heard about new skills from Snap – especially how to use Augmented reality to enhance the shopper journey (over 200 million users try things on with AR before buying); Google urged us to update the shopper experience too with one case study showing a 40% improvement in returns when visual formats were added.  Clear Channel and Contagious recommended the power of “mousetrap marketing” where the brand leaves room for the consumer to participate.  MediaCom’s Helen Brain and IPA president Julian Douglas warned against the pitfalls of “green washing; green wishing and green hushing”.  Savvy consumers will pick you up on the first two, and remaining silent is not good enough.

The ethics of data usage were covered in two sessions: MediaCom’s Owain Wilson told us to be clear that just because you can do something with data, doesn’t mean you should.  Stay in control, be trusted and be relevant is his three part mantra.  Our MD Satin Reid interviewed Group M’s Niel Bornman who reinforced the importance of a data ethics policy and disclosed that he isn’t that optimistic that consumers will ever be in control of their own data.

Lindsey Jordan (MediaCom’s head of creativity), our ECD Tom Curtis and Bonita Samuels talked about new skills required to maximise the impact of creativity by bringing diverse voices in, by using data in new and exciting ways to power relevancy and the rapid impact of democratization on creativity as social allows everyone to have a voice.  This session is packed full of amazing work – including Croatia’s Dogvertising award winning approach.

Its impossible to cover every  session here, and there’s much more to delve into including Sky telling us the future of sport, Twitter teaching us how to stand out, Channel 4 reporting on Black to Front, Bauer on the flexibility and creativity of radio; Mobsta on fighting climate change; DCM and Pearl and Dean on the power of cinema for cultural traction, MediaCom and Group M on systemic change through inclusive planning, Xaxis on how to unlock the potential of gaming, JCDecaux on transformation in adversity.

So speed and acceleration are crucial, if you slow your transformation down you will be left behind. We all have an active role to play in making work and the workplace better.  New skills are essential (what new skill will you acquire this year?).




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