Raahil Chopra
Jun 21, 2016

Cannes Lions 2016: ‘Agency models are not broken’: Wendy Clark

The CEO of DDB North America reflected on issues in the advertising world and how those could be addressed

Cannes Lions 2016: ‘Agency models are not broken’: Wendy Clark
About 169 days after taking over as CEO for DDB North America, moving from The Coca Cola Company, Wendy Clark stepped in to say ‘Hello from the other side’ and share a perspective from the agency.
She started by saying that the challenge was fundamentally the same for clients, creative agencies or media agencies. She added, "We have to manage the present and invent the future. The world has 7,395,000,000 people. 3,790,000,000 are unique mobile users. 3,419,000,000 are internet users. 2,307,000,000 are social media users. Every minute sees 150,000,000 emails sent; 20,800,000 WhatsApp messages, 2,800,000 YouTube video views and 2,400,000 Google searches. So, your 60-second TV spot can only take you so far. Most of our clients love TV. It’s important, but we have to expand. The time spent on TV is decreasing, and digital is increasing. The currency of business is speed. It is impacting businesses end-to-end.”
Clark said that as a client, agencies allowed her to pick two words from ‘good‘, ‘fast‘ and ‘cheap‘. Showcasing videos of marketing executives from J&J, StateForm and Fiat Chrysler to back her point, she asked, “The world has changed. Brands are changing. Why is the agency not changing?”
She noted that the days of clients force-fitting into fixed agency models are changing. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, she said: “Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.”
She explained, “That’s what we need to do. We need to start from the top. There is no substitute for great work. It can be a film, a GIF, an on-ground activation or packaging. As the market has expanded, a lot of clients and agencies have looked at more avenues. With so much of data available, more, cannot be an option. The goal for all us should be more good. We have to see our processes, people and approach and be as dynamic as the market place. We’ve heard the agency model will be broken. Requirements may have changed, but agency models are not broken. We need disruption and have a different approach.”
Clark went on to speak about DDB Flex, a new model used by DDB in North America.  The model looks to embed cross capabilities and even involves agencies working with each other, even if they’re outside the same group.
On the importance of clients and agencies working together, she said, “I’ve faced first hand, that after clients deliver a brief, agencies disappear for eight weeks and then come up with something less than perfect.”
Efficiency and Culture
Clark referred to efficiency as something that’s somewhere become a bad word. “Agencies have been slow to respond to efficiency. So, clients then go find experts in efficiency. They (clients) are creating patchwork solutions to solve their agency needs,” said Clark.
The next subject she touched upon was work culture. “Bad behaviour was tolerated at the expense of good work. We can’t do that now because of collaboration,” observed the speaker, adding that talent had no gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.
She surmised, “Our ambition is simple. We will not rest till we are as diverse and inclusive as the marketplace we serve.”
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