Let’s Get Fighting Fit: PR and Business Development Health Check

Upfront announces next masterclass with Propeller PR – 4th April 2019, The Charlotte Street Hotel

Join us for breakfast, insights and round table discussions where we will be having a spring clean of your agency Business Development and PR plan, making sure you have everything to stay on track for the rest of the year.

With the year in full swing, it is a good time to take a moment to see how those all important Business Development and PR plans are taking shape, review progress and make any changes that are needed to stay on track. Alternatively, if you don’t yet have a plan, it’s not too late!

We’ve organised a morning Masterclass on the 4th April, bringing together a range of agency peers to cover some of the areas that will be vital to your success over the rest of the year. These will be practical, interactive sessions where we’ll share ideas and discuss specific issues and challenges you may be facing.

Opening our discussion as keynote speaker will be Bronwen Andrews, Head of Business Development for the UK and Europe at Grayling. Bronwen’s career in new business includes working at Edelman and Publicis’s MSLGROUP, helping win clients such as Coca-Cola and Netflix. She will share her experience and insights to help make sure you stay on track throughout the year.

The rest of the morning will be an interactive workshop session with table discussions. Each table will be hosted by an expert practitioner on a specific topic, where you will be invited to share pain points, ideas and advice with peers. After 20 minutes you move to another table and another topic!

The table discussions will be led by:

Auditing your new business success, sharing insights from the JFDI New Business Barometer – Camilla Honey (Managing Director, JFDI)

Content/tips for ideas, formats, distribution – Branwell Johnson (Director of Content, Propeller Group)

How to build your network – Rose Bentley (Director of Strategy, Propeller Group)

Insights and strategies to build a successful Business Development programme – Jody Osman (Managing Director, Upfront Business Development)

The morning will give you a good opportunity to gain insight, see how other agencies are getting on and ensure you have everything in place to help make sure your plans for the year are on track.

Register for tickets here.

For further information, contact Leiley Sanei on 020 3861 4450.

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Getting Fighting Fit: PR and Business Development Masterclass – Highlights

In December, Upfront and Propeller Group hosted their first joint event at The Charlotte Street Hotel, where four breakfast roundtables discussed how to create your joined up 2019 agency business development and PR plan. Kicking off the morning was Anna Burns, Managing Partner of Ogilvy, who heads up Ogilvy’s EMEA business development and marketing activities She shared her tips, insights and best practise when planning for a successful year ahead. Following her, each table broke into separate discussions led by Jody Osman, Branwell Johnson, Ian Farnfield and Ben Titchmarsh. Here are our key takeaways from each table discussion.

How to build and maintain strong client relationships

Leading this topic discussion was Ian Farnfield, CEO of Tonic Partners. He has been responsible for growing two major international agencies from small national businesses and driven the success of over a dozen start-ups. Through this extensive experience, Ian’s discussion highlighted that business development does not just involve winning business; retaining clients should be just as essential to your business development plan. Central to this, Ian advised, was planning. Planning for the year ahead should be all encompassing – involving the entire agency, outlining individual and team roles and reconnecting on a monthly basis to ensure progress and growth. New Business can often take president over clients, both in terms of investment and time. Discussion continued however, to highlight that the two shouldn’t be separated. Join up the skills needed in new business and client services and enhance all relationships. Take the time to understand each client – while planning is essential, there isn’t a one size fits all strategy. Just as you would with a pitch, tailor your strategy depending on the client’s potential. Ian’s table discussions throughout the morning took away the essential advice to be committed, be nosy and don’t let your clients forget the reason you won the pitch in the first place.

The key components to a successful new business plan

Jody Osman, Managing Director of Upfront drew on his experience in business development, having helped agencies win over 150m worth of business; and led discussion around how to develop a successful new business plan. This begins, he argued, with the targeting. Take the time to get the targeting right – make sure you’re contacting the right decision makers and the right companies for your agency. Segment your plan, divide it in a way that makes sense to your strategy – whether that be by sector, job title, spend etc. Have a clear focus in what you want to achieve and set targets and deadlines – plans should always be working documents so set in quarterly reviews to see if you’re on track and what’s working. If you appear to be behind where you should be at a particular time, you need to understand why and review your strategy laid out in your initial plan. Be open to changing and adapting. Jody noted that success not only looks different for different agencies, but can look different throughout the year depending on your agency’s priorities. Adapting to what your success looks like, taking into account the ever changing agency landscape and industry trends around you is an incredibly important aspect of success. Additionally, Jody highlighted the importance of an effective CRM system to track your progress, set tasks and ensure your plan is fully in action. Ending his table discussions, he noted that while plans by their very design involve thinking ahead, you should continue to look back, drawing on past experience and previous years to ensure that this year is your most successful one yet.

Creating content that moves the dial for business growth

Branwell Johnson, Director of Content at Propeller, a former journalist and deputy editor of Marketing Week, highlighted the importance of content when it comes to joining up business development and PR. Content is often viewed as a heavy investment with relatively minimal return. Agencies need to look at the cost of creating content vs. the cost of not creating it. You can invest a lot of time and money into creating a great piece of content, but if no one sees it, then that’s where the question over its value arises. It’s not all about what you produce, but how you then go on to use this great piece of content. When deadlines hit and agencies struggle with budgets, it is challenging to get stakeholders to invest in content, but it should be your responsibility to challenge yourself and your peers to research trends, see what the industry is talking about and become part of the conversation. Not only can content help recruit talent and help your business grow internally, it can elevate your company status both agency and client side. If your business is looking for external support or investment, it needs to be seen to be innovative, it needs to be admired and respected. Branwell advised delegates that content was a key component to achieving this.

Building your agency brand in a competitive market

Director of Business Development and Partnerships at Propeller Group, Ben Titchmarsh led his table discussion around how your agency can stand out within today’s competitive landscape. He argued that at face value, agencies can often all look the same. Obvious though it may seem, a company’s website is an easy way to create content around your company, but how do you stand out in an online sea of similar agencies? It gets increasingly difficult to differentiate one from another – companies are at risk of losing their USP when they face competition from thousands of other agencies that claim to do exactly the same. This is not to say that agencies have lost their individuality but they increasingly fall short of effectively communicating their key messaging. Supporting Branwell’s sentiments, content can often get overlooked because a greater client need requires urgency. There needs to be a shift in attitude of content as an additional part of company strategy to a central element of your plan for business development.

You can read more about Upfront and Propeller’s plans to fully join up business development and PR here. Thank you to all those who attended the event, and to our speakers for an insightful and thought-provoking discussion. If you’d like to talk about creating your agency’s integrated business development and PR plan, please get in touch.

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An Interview with Jemima Monies

Last Month, Upfront’s Managing Director and Co-Founder of The BD100, Jody Osman interviewed Jemima Monies. Deputy Managing Director of Adam & Eve DDB and member of The BD100 2018, Jemima has worked in new business for over ten years.

After achieving Agency of the Year (making it four years in a row) and only just pipped to the post in the creative agency new business rankings for 2018, Jemima shares her thinking and approach to Business Development – including how to prepare for a big agency pitch, the importance of adapting your approach and the need for good work to power Business Development and PR.

This is the first in a series of interviews The BD100 has coming up which will share insight, tips and Business Development best practice.

Thanks so much to Jemima who managed to fit us in to her busy schedule at the end of last year, just before going on maternity leave!

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more, or get involved.

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Business Development Trends and Predictions for 2019

As we plan for the year ahead, we’ve been reflecting back on the last 12 months and talking to the agency community, to understand what will be the key trends for Business Development in 2019. Here are our 7 top predictions to help you keep ahead of the game.

TRADITIONAL AGENCY CATEGORIES WILL BECOME LESS SIGNIFICANT

The increase in agencies of all different shapes and sizes – as well as consultants, technology solutions and other new entrants to the market – means that you’re no longer just competing against those who have traditionally done the same as you. The lines between the categories and classifications of agencies has become increasingly blurred, so agencies find themselves being compared against a wide range of different businesses.

There are already over 30,000 agencies in the UK and some analysis recently undertaken suggests some 40 different agency models in operation. Ed Walker, Business Development Director at Foolproof predicts that management consultancies will also continue to become more influential and secure more places on pitch lists. Therefore it’s ever more important to find ways to make sure your agency stands out and go beyond the discipline or category you specialise in.

Ian Farnfield of Tonic Partners highlights that clients are often looking for specialists who can deliver results, but they find it hard to identify what they are really getting. Therefore it’s important to make it clear what you stand for, what client challenge you solve, or where you really add value. Ian also suggests that ‘likeability’ and trust will increasingly play a big part in winning and maintaining relationships.

SALES INTELLIGENCE SOFTWARE WILL BE A GAME CHANGER

Over the last couple of years technology has been changing the landscape for new business. A good CRM system should now be a basic expectation for any new business team (especially with great free and low cost options out there).

The right data and insights tools should also be an essential part of any new business toolkit. Ingrid Olmesdahl (Client Services Director at Red Badger) expects to see data-driven approach to new business become non-negotiable in 2019, with the correct use of data and insights a key differentiator for agencies in supporting new business and client development.

At Upfront, we’ve recently secured a deal to exclusively partner with U.S. based sales intelligence leader Winmo. As well as providing access to the latest media spend, incumbent agency info and brand insight, the really exciting part is the platform’s predictive intelligence – by tracking triggers such as investment, financial performance and new appointments, the platform helps you anticipate future agencies reviews so you don’t chase new business leads, you get out in front of them.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT GDPR

The anticipation of GDPR coming into force in 2018 created a lot of concern amongst agencies as to what this would mean for new business. After a big rush to update privacy policies and ironically, send out lots of emails, businesses have largely continued to reach out to potential clients by applying legitimate interest. Whilst the headlines and attention quickly faded post May 25th, it’s important to manage your data carefully and provide a clear opt-out process.

If you are applying legitimate interest as a reason for contacting someone, do keep in mind the importance of ensuring your communication is well targeted and highly relevant. This is important not just too adhere to legislation, but as best practice to increase your chances of success. It’s also important to ensure you future proof your new business activity by developing highly engaged relationships where people want to hear more from you as who knows that the future holds as PECR and other updates follow.

KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO

The agency pitch was a hot topic throughout 2018 and something we covered at a recent event where we looked at how the pitch process can be improved. There have been a number of calls for the process to be overhauled and some intermediaries proposing new models and ways of working. We expect this conversation to carry forward into 2019 with a more collaborative approach between clients, agencies, intermediaries and procurement helping to develop more progressive and streamlined processes.

We all know that the pitch process can be an incredibly time intensive process for both agencies and clients. The most effective agencies over the last year have enjoyed success, not by being on the most pitch lists, but by knowing which pitches to go for. Kate Bosomworth, CMO of M&C Saatchi, highlighted at our BD100 event that agencies need to know when to say no and should become more selective with who they choose to pitch for. Keep this in mind when planning resource allocation for new business to deliver on the year ahead.

Agencies should also make sure they commit to diversity, as this is likely to become more and more important to brands and start impacting selection process. When speaking at our event, Carolyn McKeever, Global Head of Downstream Marketing at Shell, mentioned that diversity was important, but sometimes difficult to apply when better creative work is still likely to swing it. However, with recent calls from the likes of Syl Saller, Diageo’s Global Chief Marketing Officer, to ask agencies to see their statistics on gender diversity and pay gaps, it’s likely to form an increasingly prominent part of the process – and rightly so!

PR AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT WILL WORK CLOSER TOGETHER

In a recent interview with Jemima Monies, Deputy Managing Director at Adam & Eve DDB, Jemima shared her view that PR and Business Development need to work closely together, intrinsically supported by great work. Jemima explains that when it comes to new business, it’s much more than just pitching and you need to look at the agency as a whole – considering all aspects of marketing, internal comms and PR.

New Business consultant Lucy Snell adds that new business should be about covering all bases – from content, to social media & marketing, through to running, attending and speaking at events.

In an increasingly competitive landscape, great content, events and PR are no longer nice to haves for Business Development. They are all critical to supporting both outbound and inbound new business activity and helping agencies stand out. Meanwhile, from a PR perspective, Martin Loat (Chairman at the Propeller Group) highlights that agencies are increasingly looking for business outcomes and sales delivered in return for their investment in PR.

These were big drivers for Upfront to join forces and become part of the Propeller Group in 2018, allowing us to tap into new skills and expertise as part of a joined up approach. We see this extending into exciting areas in 2019 such as video and podcast production, inbound and LinkedIn engagement to help agencies deliver leads and support their new business activity.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT WILL GET THE RECOGNITION IT DESERVES

In September 2018 we were very proud to launch The BD100. Together with Co-Founder, Richard McHardy, we felt it was time to shine a light on all the fantastic Business Developers out there and did this by bringing everyone together for a night of celebration. Fran Brook won the Business Developer of the Year and Lydia Smith was voted rising star. Both were very worthy winners, but beyond that, it was great to seeing all of the top 100 getting the recognition they deserve.

We were delighted to partner with The Drum for The BD100 and together we are already making plans to do this again in 2019. It will be bigger and better as we continue to champion the business development community. Further announcements to follow soon and rest assured we will continue to work hard to ensure Business Development gets the recognition it deserves.

STAY PITCH FIT

It’s likely that you will have your highs and lows in new business. Kerry Glazer (CEO of AAR and President of NABS) reminds us that Business Development can be very stressful and at times, lonely profession, so make sure you keep you and your team pitch fit and prioritise staff wellbeing.

It’s been encouraging to see more open discussion around the importance of mental well-being across the indusry – and in particular around new business. We hope to see this continue in 2019 with a greater commitment to supporting Business Development teams.

Organisations such as NABS are on hand for support and if you don’t already have one, it may be worth searching out a mentor. It’s also a good idea to regularly meet up with other Business Developers to help share ideas, insights and experience.

Good luck for the year ahead, may it be filled with lots of exciting new business success!

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more, or need a little help with all this.

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Stay Ahead with October’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Here are October’s Movers and Shakers we recommend that you keep an eye on:

Jeremy Pee has taken the new role of chief digital and data officer at Marks & Spencer. He is Senior VP of digital at Canadian retailer, Loblaw. He will officially take his new position at M&S at the beginning of December.

Rachel Day has left River Island where she was International Marketing Controller. She has moved to Hunter Boots (Pentland Brands) where she been appointed Head of Marketing .

Tinder, the leading dating app, has appointed Jenny Campbell as chief marketing officer. He has moved from Nike, where she was senior global brand director.

Julie Austin has been hired as Marketing & Ecommerce Director at Bravissimo. She has moved from Mamas & Papas where she was Head of Digital.

Keith Gulliver has left Specsavers where he was former Head of Marketing. He has moved to TSB Bank where he has become Head of Marketing, Social Media and Content. Gulliver will oversee the launch of new social and content division, The TSB Studio.

Itsu has appointed Hilary Ma as Senior Group Digital Manager. She has joined from Sky where she was Customer Marketing Manager.

Martin Moll has been hired as Marketing Director at Peugeot. He has moved from Nissan where he was European Marketing Director.

Jenny Armstrong has been appointed as Digital Marketing Manager – Guinness Storehouse at Diageo. She has moved from Jameson Whiskey, where she was Global Senior Brand Manager.

Elegant Resorts has promoted Marie Williams-Cooke from Marketing & Communications Executive to Head of Marketing.

Lottie Dominiczak has been hired as Head of Communications UK at Uber. She has moved from Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport where she was Special Advisor.

Kevin McNair has been hired as Marketing Director at KP Snacks Limited. He has moved from Britvic Soft Drinks where he was also Marketing Director, GB.

Clarks Shoes has hired Simon McTiernan as European Head of Digital Marketing. He has moved from The Royal Mint where he was former Head of Digital- Bullion.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Stay Upstream. Click here to find out more.

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Stay Ahead with September’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Here are September’s Movers and Shakers we recommend that you keep an eye on:

Hannah Norbury has been promoted from Channel Director – out of home to Marketing Director at Lucozade Ribena Suntory. Prior to this, she was Ribena’s Marketing Director and was responsible for delivering the relaunch of the Orangina brand.

Jeremy Pee has taken the new role of chief digital and data officer at Marks & Spencer. He is Senior VP of digital at Canadian retailer, Loblaw. He will officially take his new position at M&S at the beginning of December.

Rachel Day has left River Island where she was International Marketing Controller. She has moved to Hunter Boots (Pentland Brands) where she been appointed Head of Marketing .

Gav Thompson has left YOPA Property where he was former Chief Marketing Officer. He has moved to Boden where he’s taken the role of Chief Customer Officer.

Amy Osborne has moved from agency to client side, joining ForrestBrown as Marketing Manager. She has moved from Mr B & Friends where she was Business Development Manager.

Shop Direct Home Shopping has promoted Sylvia Woon as Chief Marketing Officer. She previously held the position of Marketing and Creative Director.

Smart Currency Exchange has hired D’Arcy Heath as Digital Marketing Director. He has joined from GTA, where he was Head of Digital Commerce.

Tinder, the leading dating app, has appointed Jenny Campbell as chief marketing officer. He has moved from Nike, where she was senior global brand director.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Stay Upstream. Click here to find out more.

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How to Create a Winning Mindset

On Thursday 13th September, Upfront was proud to partner with The BD100 for its launch event, bringing together over 100 business developers and like-minded individuals for an evening celebrating new business and recognising the best in business development.

The evening was hosted by The BD100 founders, Upfront’s very own Jody Osman and Richard McHardy of the McHardy Collective, with a panel discussion led by Robin Bonn, founder of management consultancy, Co:definery and featuring: Kerry Glazer (CEO of AAR), Matt Edwards (CEO of WCRS), Roy Jugessur (Senior VP of Global Sales at Selligent) and Kate Bosomworth (Chief Marketing Officer at M&C Saatchi).

The theme of the discussion was mindset, including how to create a winning mindset, making sure you’re “pitch fit”, and everything in between. Each of the panel shared their experience, insight and ideas to provide inspiration and tips around a number of key topics.

Business Development should be at the heart of every agency

How do agencies create an environment where business development can thrive? Roy believes it starts from the top, whilst Kerry added that the best agencies are those that are led by people who put new business at the heart. Matt, who before becoming CEO, led business development at WCRS, drew on his knowledge both in new business as well as leadership. He argued that this environment can be created by educating your entire team about just how difficult new business is. All successes should be celebrated, not just a pitch win, but all the small successes that led to that point. Agreeing with Matt, Kate stated that new business doesn’t happen in silo, and the entire company – from top to bottom – needs to understand their relationship with the agency business developer.

Good mentors can be found close to home

As a mentor to various people, Kate advised that you need to think about what you want from your relationship with your mentor very carefully. No matter where you are in your career, you can always benefit from a mentor, whether you’re just getting started or if you’re running your own agency. Roy added that it is beneficial to build good relationships with leaders within your company and attributed high emotional intelligence as key to a good mentor. Matt agreed with this, and also recommended that if your agency is part of a larger agency network, make use of these connections and find mentors within other companies. Whilst there may be resistance to this due to the competitive nature of the job, Kerry argued that business development is a small but unique community and we should be taking advantage of our shared experiences.

There can be very little difference between success and failure

Whilst Business Development is often a team effort, it can often feel like a Business Developer’s personal responsibility – and when it’s not going the way you want, it can feel like a personal failure. Kerry advised that you need to be resilient, you need to galvanise yourself and your time, and don’t let your team try to get out of rehearsing for pitches. To achieve this Roy recommended that you need to plan, plan, plan and work hard to maintain creativity on a daily basis. Kate attributed one of the biggest struggles for business developers is coping with the highs and lows of the job: If it isn’t going brilliantly, then it’s awful, and there’s not really an in-between. Matt added that it’s a role with a very visible definition of success with a much less visible means of getting there.

It’s not just about the wins

On the night Diane Young, co-founder of The Drum, also asked what would be a reasonable rate of growth was for an agency to expect. All panellists agreed that this was incredibly difficult to measure and that it varied depending on agency. Robin highlighted that an agencies definition of growth should be unique to them and their plans as a business. Kerry and Kate agreed that retention of clients is often overlooked, and business development should be celebrated as much as new business. If a client’s budget increases, this can be as important for an agency’s growth as a new win.

You have to know when to say no

The subject of conversation soon moved to the topic of pitching. All panelists agreed that who you should be selective about who choose to pitch for, and you shouldn’t be afraid to reject new opportunities. Kate went on to elaborate: Say no to a pitch opportunity and believe me, you will have the attention of your business

Thank you to all the panelists for an insightful and thought-provoking discussion.
See the highlights of The BD100 2018 event below:

If you are interested in finding out more about The BD100, attending or speaking at any future events, then please get in touch.

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Stay Ahead with August’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Here are August’s Movers and Shakers we recommend that you keep an eye on:

Former Global Chief Marketing Officer of Just Eat, Barnaby Dawe, has joined Pret A Manger as the Chief Customer Officer. The first person to take on this role in the company, Dawe will officially join in October and will be responsible for all Pret’s global marketing and communications activity.

Neil Hayes has been promoted to Marketing Director of Iceland Foods. His previous role was Merchandising and Format Development Director, and he will now be responsible for overseeing both marketing and merchandising.

Erin Roy has been appointed Marketing Director at The White Company. He has moved from Marks & Spencer where he was Head of Media & Digital Marketing.

Laura McLachlan has been promoted at Worldwide Cancer Research from Interim Director of Marketing & Communications to Director of Marketing.

Billie Jean De Voil has left Topshop Topman where he was Head of Marketing. He has moved to Lacoste where he has become Director of Marketing.

Border Biscuits has hired Suzie Carlaw as its newest Marketing Manager. She was formerly Marketing Controller and Quality Meat Scotland.

Lisa Coulson has been appointed Head of Marketing & Digital Innovation at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). She has moved from Virgin Media where she was Head of Marketing- Mobile.

BT has promoted Pete Oliver from Managing Director of Marketing to Managing Director of Marketing, Consumer Division BT & EE. This was part of a restructure aimed at speeding up the roll-out of new converged services.

Eve Tyers has left Bravissimo where she was Marketing Director. She has moved to Victoria’s Secret where she has also taken the position of Marketing Director.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Stay Upstream. Click here to find out more.

 

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Stay Ahead with July’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Here are July’s Movers and Shakers we recommend that you keep an eye on:

Michael Harris has been appointed Global Marketing Director, McVitie’s at Pladis Global. He has moved from General Mills where he was International Marketing Director, European Emerging Markets.

General Mills has hired Mark Brown as its new Marketing Director, Northern Europe. He has joined from Haagen Dazs where he was Global Senior Marketing Manager.

Patrick Megarry has moved to A.S Watson Group (Superdrug Stores plc) where he has become Head of Marketing. He previously worked at Proctor & Gamble, where he was Group Marketing Manager, Home Care Northern Europe. Superdrug also recently announced a growth in profit this year, attributing the steady financial figures to marketing campaigns like its sponsorship of ITV’s Love Island.

Lloyds Banking Group has appointed Richard Warren as its new Director, Marketing Communications. He has moved from GreenhouseGroupM, where he was Managing Director.

Rachel Waller has become VP Marketing, Digital at Burberry. She has moved from Farfetch where she was Global Director of Brand and Social Media.

Bruce Dallas has been promoted from Brand Director to GB Marketing Director at Britvic Plc. Dallas has been brand director of carbonates for the Robinsons, PepsiMax and 7Up producer for the past two years.

Vauxhall Motors has hired Patrick Fourniol as Marketing Director. Prior to this, Fourniol was at Al-Fattaim where he was Head of Marketing for Toyota.

Homebase has promoted Elia Green as from Head of Regional Marketing, Homebase Bunnings to Head of Marketing.

Clafoutie Sintive has been appointed Marketing Director, Snacks at Walkers Snacks. She has moved from L’Oreal where she was also Marketing Director, Beauty sets & Pure players.

Emma Thompson has been promoted from Senior Global CRM Manager to TIGI Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Unilever.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Stay Upstream. Click here to find out more.

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The Pitch Process: Evolution or Reinvention?

5 Key Takeaways from Upfront Straight Talking event: How can the pitch process be improved?

Last month Upfront Business Development hosted the latest in its Straight Talking Series, bringing together over 100 agencies and brands to debate the pitch process. Robin Bonn, Founder of Co:definery, led the discussion with representatives from brand, agency, intermediary and procurement. The expert panel consisted of Carolyn McKeever, Global Head of Downstream Marketing at Shell, Nina Jasinski, Chief Marketing Officer at Ogilvy, Charlie Carpenter, Managing Director at Creativebrief and Tina Fegent, from Tina Fegent Consulting.

  1. Views on the pitch process were split 

 Creativebrief’s recent research suggested that 61% of brands and 93% of agencies didn’t think the current pitch process was fit for purpose. Upfront’s Founder, Jody Osman, kicked off the day by asking the audience their views on this. The room was evenly split between those that agreed and those who disagreed. A good starting point to continue the discussion on how it can be improved.

There was also difference in opinion amongst the panel. Nina (agency) and Tina (procurement) were in general agreement that if the proper procedures are adhered to, the pitch process largely works. From the brand perspective, Carolyn agreed that the current process is working, but recognised the many flaws for both client and agency, and called for more fluidity in relationship between those involved. Charlie, as supported by Creativebrief’s research, highlighted the growing dissatisfaction with the current process by both brands and agencies. Due to increased selectivity of agencies, brands are not always getting the agencies they necessarily want, in which Carolyn agreed, based on her experiences at Shell, where five agencies that they wanted to work with turned them down.

  1. Agency stand out is vital

In order to stand out from the crowd, Nina commented that for agencies, “reputation is definitely paramount…if you don’t understand how the client is finding you and you’re hoping that its just going to happen by luck, it’s going to take a long time for you to grow”. Carolyn agreed with this statement. Whilst she concurred that a number of boxes need to be ticked to narrow down a short list of appropriate agencies, she commented that once it gets to pitching, every agency can do everything they need across every market in every possible way and it’s therefore very difficult to make the final decision.

“That final decision comes down to: did you like the people? Was the work good? Was there chemistry? Was there any diversity at all on their panel side?” (Shell)

  1. Partnership is a complicated term

Debate continued around to what extent the pitch demonstrates a good future relationship between client and agency. Carolyn argued that the more important question to be asked is “why are we even pitching?” commenting that the pitch process doesn’t fully give a sense of how the partnership will work. Charlie added  that the pitch process doesn’t offers a “true sense” of what it will be like to work with an agency. Nina contended that this doesn’t mean that they didn’t end up happy in the choice of agency and argued that transparency on both sides will create a stronger collaboration between client and agency.  After conducting a comprehensive global agency review earlier this year, Carolyn believes that the idea of “partnership is seriously lacking”, and in order to change this, both sides need to be open to the change. Tina commented that partnership is a really tough word to use, and one procurement doesn’t use lightly.

“Agencies are suppliers and while you should try to do the most to make sure it’s a two-way relationship, it’s ultimately a client- supplier relationship.” (Tina Fegent Consulting)

Tina did note that finding out about each other is essential, so workshops within the process need to be utilised. Charlie commented that the current process in place doesn’t promote a strong partnership, and clients will find much greater value from spending significant time with the agency, as indicated in the “try before you buy” process that Creativebrief are beginning to promote. He highlighted that the narrative around leverage which procurement specialist tend to argue needs to change in order to promote a successful partnership.

  1. One size doesn’t fit all

Although disagreement on best practices, all panellists were in general agreement that there wasn’t one strict structure of the pitch process that worked for every client and agency. There are over 20,000 agencies in the UK and 40 different agency models so there isn’t going to be one solution to suit everyone. Robin argued that there is an opportunity for both brands and agencies to challenge the process in place, and there are a whole variety of different pitching models, which can be tailored depending on type, size and resource of agency.

“It’s’ incumbent on everybody to have a conversation, and to push to have that conversation about what’s the right kind of model, both on the client and on the agency side. It’s a question of taking responsibility…agencies should make sure you have the remit, responsibility and the criteria that are pertinent, and give yourself permission to have that conversation with the client.” (Co:definery)

The day ended with Robin wrapping up and offering the advice that all parties need to choose the model that is right for them. It’s not about dramatic change, but evolution of the process to eventually get the best for all involved.

  1. Still plenty more to discuss

The conversation will continue at The Drum’s Pitch Perfect event on 13th September. That evening, The BD100 awards, will celebrate the best UK business developers; bringing together the Business Development community for a night of networking, conversation, insight and celebration.
Get your ticket for Pitch Perfect, and The BD100 event here

See more highlights from the event below:

If you are interested in finding out more about Pitch Perfect, attending or speaking at any future events, please get in touch.

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