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Managing Marketing: Strategy, Media, Creative and Agency Brands

Emma_Montgomery

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Emma Montgomery is the Chief Executive Officer of Leo Burnett. She has had some major global strategic roles at TBWA in LA and Leo Burnett in Chicago and reflects on the role of strategy in agencies and marketing. Having commenced her career in media at Starcom she also explores the roles and opportunities for media and creative agencies working together. And finally, she talks about the importance of agency brands and how this works within a holding company like Publicis and the Power of One.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

Today, I’m sitting down with Emma Montgomery, the Chief Executive Officer at Leo Burnett Australia. Welcome, Emma.

Emma:

Hi Darren, nice to be here.

Darren:

Well, look, thank you for taking the time. And you’re not exactly brand new in the job, but it’s only a few months, isn’t it?

Emma:

Yeah, I got back to Australia in March. Although it feels a little like dog years because I’ve gone from one lockdown to another. And Melinda has been gone for a couple of weeks now. So, in the Australian world for a couple of weeks, but in the market since March.

Darren:

And by Melinda, you mean Melinda Geertz, who is the long-term Leo Burnett’s Star-Lord, and such a terrific person. I mean, in some ways, big shoes to fill, but also big opportunities.

Emma:

I mean, I think Melinda and I have done the shoe analogy many, many times, in that — I don’t think anybody can fit Melinda’s shoes. She’s an incredible leader and look, she is Leo Burnett, so it’s both incredibly humbling to be picking up from someone of her calibre. But also, a great opportunity for us to look at things fresh, and kind of see what else might we want to be doing.

But yes, she’s a huge reason why I’m here, why I’m in the industry. And she’s just such a brilliant leader.

Darren:

Yeah. Look, and that’s what I meant, huge opportunity because you actually bring quite a diverse and also an expansive and interesting background to this role, don’t you?

I mean, looking through ─ and sorry, I stalked you on LinkedIn.

Emma:

That’s the way to do it.

Darren:

But there’s a couple of themes coming through that I wouldn’t mind exploring with you. The first is a very strong focus on strategy. And the second is the interesting early part of your career that was quite media-centric and then the latter, more the creative side. So, we’ll get to that in a minute.

But strategy, so I find it such an interesting word “strategy,” because lots of people talk about it, but they really struggle defining it and its role, don’t they?

Emma:

Yeah, totally. And it’s interesting because I think I’ve worked in almost every discipline of strategy from all sorts of angles — and it’s been a big thing for me to try and understand what different types of agencies or different types of industries, or even clients mean by “strategy”.

At its simplest, I think it’s the ability to problem-solve and to set a direction. And it’s interesting because I think in creative — we equate it with planning and often focus it entirely on brief writing, which I think is such a shame. Because it’s such a bigger opportunity, just to be really unpacking problems and looking for answers with clients, which to me, is a much broader discipline than how we think about it as a planning opportunity.

Darren:

Yeah, it’s interesting because some people think strategy and planning are interchangeable, that they’re almost synonyms of each other. But do you have a functional definition for yourself that separates the two?

Emma:

Yeah, I mean, to me planning is the thing that comes out of strategy. So, strategy is sort of setting the course — and planning is defining all the bones of the course. So, I think about them as quite different. To me, planning is almost a detailed discipline.

Whereas, I think strategy is the big-thinking growth discipline. And so, it’s really looking at the unpacking of a problem and identification of an outcome.

And again, I’ve worked in comms planning and media planning and PR planning, and digital planning, and they’re all really granular pursuits actually. They look at that kind of problem-solving from a particular angle. So, I think the approach of strategy is almost bringing all those together, and taking it up a notch.

Darren:

I love the fact that you call them all planning because I think one of the dangers and one of the things I’ve rebelled against in the past is that there’s more strategists than you can poke a stick at.

When you meet someone and, “I’m the social media strategist” and I’m going, “Well, are you ever actually going to give me a strategy that doesn’t include social media?” And they go, “Well, no.” Then I go, “Then really, you’re the social media sales person, aren’t you?”

Emma:

Yeah, totally. That’s exactly right. To some extent, those planning disciplines are very executional. And by design, they’re executional. And so, when we’re looking from the lens of your particular vantage point, what are all of the depths and details that you can do?

So, you do need the people who can cut across and can bring those things together. I think they’re true strategists. We often think about them as hybrids, in the marketplace, but actually, I think you’re right. I think there’s a difference between strategy and planning. I think agencies have often gotten into subdividing strategy – often to sell more skillsets.

Emma:

But it’s funny, because it’s almost like the bit that often gets missed out is almost the generalist. And that generalist, that translator, I think is often the most important person. And again, that skillset doesn’t have to be a department. Some of the best strategists: the creatives, the account leads, the clients ─ it is really a way of thinking and bringing that to problems.

And then we’ve got specific departments who can pick that up and do something with that. But I mean, it’s interesting, everybody’s a strategist, I guess that’s probably me too. It’s definitely a thing.

Darren:

Well, the reason I bring it up is that I think there’s such a screaming need for marketers to have that strategic thinking. Like many of them have invested in it within their own organisations, but the part that’s missing is having someone outside of the organisation that still has the focus of wanting the client to be hugely successful, but is not embedded in the culture and the politics, and all of those things.

And this is where agencies could be doing amazing business, but it feels sometimes that they’ve given up that territory to the management consultants.

Emma:

Oh, gosh, yes. I could talk about this forever. I agree. I think we’ve actually just finished writing an article about this. It’s interesting because right now, if you look at the Gartner survey and it’s talking about where a CMO’s looking for growth… and the biggest focus is on their existing business.

And so, looking within their customer base for business, there’s very few ─ I think there’s only 7 or 8% of people who are looking outside of their existing market to grow. And that’s been the problem, is we are optimising ourselves to death and there’s sort of no expansion of thinking into, well, what happens next.

We’ve got optimisation and performance that have become the most critical KPIs, as opposed to looking at growth from a more imaginative place and saying, “Well, where else could it come from? What are the parts that we don’t know yet?”

And you’ve got this moment right now with Covid, one of the weirdest sets of circumstances where you’ve got a market that’s closed. You literally can’t go anywhere, people are making decisions in whole, in completely different ways than they have in the past. Some of which is by necessity and some of which is by design, and all of that suggests maybe there’s some new things that could be created.

And for that, you need bigger thinking. You need people who can look around corners, you need people who can say that thing over there could actually be connected to this thing over here. And that might help create something new. But yeah, there’s that difference between value capture and value creation — we should be capturing value. That’s our job, that sort of effectiveness.

But value creation, there’s very little of that happening. And I think the exciting part about coming back is saying, “where could that be possible in the Australian market?” It feels like the market has gone quite narrow and insular, and I think that bigger thinking and looking up — you see so much of the possibility, especially when you compare it to the consultancies.

Because again, they’ve got an incredible business, but their business is largely built on repeatability, predictability, knowing that when we do these things, these are the things that will happen. And so, there’s less room for imagination, humanity, craziness, chaos — the things that are going to get us somewhere that we didn’t even know we were going to go. I think there’s something super interesting in that.

Darren:

Emma, do you think there’s also a problem with the fact that agencies have become so synonymous with producing advertising and comms, that people are inclined to think, “Well, I’ll only go to them to get some advertising?” It’s almost like you don’t think of an agency as providing solutions because they’re really just the manufacturer of advertising.

Emma:

Absolutely. Look, I think that’s exactly it. We’re in the process of thinking about what are we selling, and what are people going to buy from us? And that’s the thing if you only think of the things that we can create for you as the assets. Even if that asset is an idea.

But you’re not really thinking about it like you could be a partner to me in growth, in a completely different way to some of the other partners that I have. And yeah, I think over time, we’ve gotten even more executional. And I don’t know what happened, whether it was the marketplace got really specialised, and so we felt like we needed to say, “No, this is our bit.”

But again, that generalist space that I think brilliant agencies used to do many years ago and occupied the space of, was the thinking. It was the idea that the creativity was a big part of how the brand came to life ─ I think that era is not here anymore.

I think a lot of that’s on us as agencies, to redefine our proposition. But we have to give clients something better to buy. So, you can’t just expect them to go, “Yeah, I believe that you’re going to be able to do all these other things to my business”, when for the past decade we’ve been selling them production.

Darren:

Absolutely. And it’s interesting because we still have conversations with clients when they’re talking about selecting agencies and they go, “I don’t want an agency that’s just going to do a TV ad.” Now, that’s a remnant of the rise of technology. In the mid-90s, I was still a copywriter back then, and there was this new division called interactive.

And before we even had the word “digital,” there was “interactive,” and it was this special area and you had to be a bit of a propeller head. And there were quite a few direct marketers who were attracted to it because there was some data and customer insights from data and things like that.

But then it became digital, and then there was digital specialists and everyone else. And it became a put down to say that an agency really focused on television.

Emma:

Yeah, totally. I think that’s it. We got so specialised, and it’s interesting because I think for a long time, it was almost expected. It was like don’t use the word “digital” — because everything’s digital, and that’s true for sure. But I think that it almost moved us away from the magic of digital.

So, it’s interesting you say the word “interactive.” I feel like when it was interactive, it was so much better. Like we were actually building experiences on the internet. We weren’t building banners. We were building websites and games, and it was the start of the exploration of what that medium could be. That was fun. And a lot of the businesses that were really successful at that time were kind of built on that.

And then digital came along and it became, oh no, it’s just everything. And we almost wrapped it all in, and it’s lost its charm. And in the meantime, we’ve said, “Hey, everything else is no longer valid”. And agencies like us who have had a big heritage in broadcast ─ and that’s a big part of how brands are built ─ have had to almost be like, “Oh no, we’re not that, we’re the other.” It’s interesting.

Darren:

You can’t say we don’t do TV because TV is part of the mix. For the right client, TV’s absolutely the right decision.

It’s interesting that you use the term about the generalist because yeah, there’s a lot of people not just in this market, but this market’s particularly hit; a lot of agencies are saying it’s becoming incredibly expensive to recruit that generalist, someone that’s got a good founding experience in digital, but they also get everything else, and they have that generalist experience.

And in fact, we’re hearing things like 10, 20% increases in salaries just to either attract those people from where they are or even retain them within … I mean, this must be on your mind as a CEO because part of the job is talent management, isn’t it?

Emma:

The talent market at the moment is incredibly hard for both finding people and keeping people. I think you’ve got a lot of people who are reassessing right now, and you’ve got a market that’s very, very attractive. So, you completely understand it.

There are certain levels of people that have really taken the opportunity to look around and find something that works for them. So, a lot of what that means for us is we need to be something that works for them.

And actually, it’s interesting, I’m a big believer that we should upskill people. And that’s probably one of the things that’s happened to me in my career. It’s not been, “hey, you can’t do that because you’re the media girl — you can’t work in creative.”

When I was in media, I moved into data and analytics and loved that. And I think you can find what people are, what their core competencies are, and teach them things. And that doesn’t mean, “hey, sit and watch loads and loads of training videos about these things.” But giving people the opportunity to work on new things, so that they can pick up new skills, I think that’s key.

And actually, that’s where things like a group are really helpful because — within Leo Burnett, there are the problems that I’m going to face, and the client work that we have — and there’s a limit to the things that we are practicing.

But then you look across our group: you’ve got Digitas, all the media agencies, you’ve got Sapient, you’ve got Performics Mercerbell. So, we have the ability to create a really well-rounded person who lives in Leo Burnett, but works on a project with Performics Mercerbell, and does something with Sapient — that’s the best way to learn.

And so, I think a lot of it is creating that cross-pollination of skillsets and giving people exposure to new things and helping them learn things along the way — because half of the people don’t know that something was going to be of real interest to them, until they dive in and discover that they’re passionate about SEO. But they just haven’t had exposure to that. So, I think it’s too expensive for us to buy, we have to grow. And I also think it’s good practice for us as an agency to be growing people.

Darren:

Well, I think Emma, that one of the things that you touched on there is the fact that in some ways, we could almost have career paths, like the old apprenticeships, where you have time in each of these areas; one, it gives you an appreciation of all of the different skills and disciplines, but also, it makes you much more well-rounded so that when you get to a point in your career where you want to, you have an aptitude or a desire to work in a particular area, you can still talk the language of all those other areas.

Because that seems to be one of the big issues these days, is that we’ve built all these very deep silos, but we haven’t created the opportunities to talk across those.

Emma:

And I think they’re going to be the most important skillsets, these translators for the people … and that’s why I really want to set us up as “expert generalists” because we can’t know everything — and we are not specialists in everything — but we need to be literate in the core of next-generation marketing.

That means that we can be good partners to our clients to help move them in the right directions, which doesn’t mean that we’re going to do all the work. We shouldn’t, we are not specialists in many of the areas that our clients should be in.

But we do need people who understand that and really, that’s the kind of person that we’re looking to have and to recruit. And increasingly, it’s having experience across multiple clients, multiple businesses within the group.

I think that’s probably our core way of building people. I mean, my career has sort of been that way. It’s been built on spending time in different places and trying different things to be honest.

And again, I think that you mentioned it helps you to not only understand how those disciplines work, but I feel like I’ve got a real respect for them because man, you figure out how hard things are. If you only know the things that you know, you look at everything else ─ and I think we do this as agencies, will look at each other and go “that’s not hard” or “what are they doing?”, “that’s really easy, I’ll do it that way.”

And then you look at it from other angles and you’re like, “actually, this is tricky.” I think that empathy for different disciplines, different approaches so that you can say “actually, I need to put my biases aside and know this isn’t the right thing for the client.” I think they’re the skillsets that we need to develop, but you need the breadth of experience to be able to do it, for sure.

Darren:

It’s always interesting because when we talk about agency fees, too often, the agency fees are structured in a way that the agency is incentivised to sell more of the things that they do, rather than being paid to actually say, “no, don’t do this, put the money over there.” Because it’s like, “Oh my God” the agency CFO’s pulling their hair out because someone’s just pushed a couple of million dollars onto another agency and we’ve lost revenue.

How much of that business aspect of agencies ─ and it’s really happened since media and creative unbundled ─ How much do you think of that is still a big challenge for agencies?

Emma:

Oh, huge. I mean, agencies’ jobs are twofold. They need to grow their client, they need to grow themselves. And really, they’re going to grow themselves when they grow their clients. And the true agnostic agency says “what’s going to grow the client?… and if that happens, I will grow. And that doesn’t have to be my service. It really is again, back to strategy – being more of a consultant to your client and playing that role.

But increasingly, that’s not the way agencies are positioned. They’re positioned as executers. So, what’s the old adage? If you’ve got a hammer, every problem is a nail. You know, there’s something in that.

Darren:

It’s true.

Emma:

In agencies, it’s “okay, so I’m a comms specialist, I’m gonna look at this and the answer’s communications”. When we know a lot of the time at the moment, the answer’s experience. And so, I think, look, I’d love to say we don’t care about any of that, that we look at everything agnostically.

But I think where we’ve got good relationships with our clients, where our expertise is valued financially, is to be able to play that role – I think that is the best use of our time. That’s the best use of our expertise. And I think not every agency and not every discipline can do that.

I think there is a really interesting role for creative agencies. And that idea that they live, I think, upstream and downstream. They’ve really pushed themselves downstream, when I think actually, the bigger value is upstream.

The challenge is, every time, how do we get paid for that? And I guess, I believe that if you behave that way, you’ll figure it out to some extent. And some of it is because you will have a better relationship with the client, that you will help the client be put into growth.

So, it’s a real tricky one, but it’s really important for us. And I think, again, that’s why consultancies work because they get to come in and say, “Hey, you should do that” and then they go away.

And that’s a little bit of a challenge for us. We almost need to say there’s a role for us as ‘consultants’, and there’s a role for us as ‘doers’.

Darren:

Yeah, absolutely. Because then in a way, you can feed into those funnels of doing without being attached to it. It separates the two.

Emma:

Yeah, totally.

Darren:

Look, you mentioned before, you started out in media.

Emma:

I did.

Darren:

Starcom was the first ─ by the way, I love media. As a creative, I quickly discovered media because that’s where all the best tickets to the best events were.

Emma:

Oh totally, yes. I mean, I love media and I am so fortunate to have grown up that way. Actually, I think it has really shaped how I think about the world. I’m an even bigger weirdo because I grew up in media, but I’ve never been a media planner or buyer. I was a media strategist, but again, really wasn’t involved in the actual doing of the planning and buying.

When I very first started, my job was to build media models and to look at how advertising works. And so, I’d just finished a degree in Politics, and I think I got my job because I knew how to use a statistical system. So, they were like, “Hey, you know how to do this, you should come here.”

And so, that qualitative brain meets the quantitative brain, on looking at marketing for the first time and really understanding from a granular level, how everything works. That’s been such a great grounding for me. And really, I think media often gets a bad name. But that sort of ground-up perspective is really valuable when you kind of bridge it with that top-down perspective, that creative perspective.

I think that marriage of “how do I unpack something from the bottom up and really understand how all the pieces work?” I love that part of media. And I think that is a real creative pursuit.

Darren:

I find it interesting looking at the way marketers generally separate the two, in that often, they’ll see media as superficially, it looks quite straightforward. I take money and I buy audiences’ eyeballs. So, they think it’s quite straightforward.

Whereas creative has that element of magic. There’s a brief and strategy and then suddenly, wow, here’s the creative and isn’t that amazing. But because it’s so obvious and in your face, in some ways, it’s very easy to have an opinion about it.

Emma:

Yeah, totally.

Darren:

I like that ad or I don’t like that ad. Whereas, it’s much harder to have that same personal evaluation of media: “I like that strategy, I don’t like that strategy. I like that media plan. Geez, those x’s look particularly good in those boxes.”

I always say media to me, is like the ancient game of Go. The rules are very simple, but it takes a lifetime to master.

Emma:

Oh, definitely.

Darren:

Did you find the same thing?

Emma:

Yeah, look it’s a science and there’s an art to the science. And I think the best media agencies have art and science. I think part of the interesting thing that’s happened since media became much more about ad tech and data, is that in its automation, that kind of humanity has changed a little.

So, I think you’re relying again on the repeatable predictable, what do we know, the models of the past to really be predicting the future. I think the biggest change was when Naked came in and Bellamy Hayden, and the advent of “it’s not media, it’s connections planning”.

And that is the most important thing a brand can do, is architect all of the encounters that it’s going to create between a brand and a consumer. And that really leads to the game of every other media agency, because I know I looked at it and went, “Damn, that’s smart. That’s so smart.”

And it made sense so much that I had known and was doing. And I’m like that’s incredible. And I think over time, lots of media agencies got really good. So that discipline got really, really good.

But I think that’s the magic of it, is the ability to look at all of these things and construct all of the different permutations, in a way that’s going to create something incredible for a brand. I think that’s the beauty and magic of media – that I think until you’re in it, it looks really easy and actually, it’s really hard.

Darren:

Yeah. It’s interesting though because you’re right’ the Nakeds, the Bellamy Hayden, I mean, there was this real transformation of the way people thought about media, but it wasn’t to suit every client.

I mean, literally, there are a vast number of media clients that were happy to have, “Right, well, here’s the brief. Am I going to get preconceived media-plan A, B and C?”

Emma:

Yeah, totally.

Darren:

“Just hit control P and print it out and send it across to me with the latest rates.”

Emma:

Yeah, totally.

Darren:

Sometimes, media’s turned into such a mundane prosaic discipline purely because it’s not really appreciated for what it can do.

Emma:

Yeah, I think it can be very commoditised for sure. And there are some clients who are interested in that, and cool if that’s what you want ─ but again, it’s like there are clients like that in creative, but then it’s going to want to be efficient and not take all your time. And then you put your efforts and emphasis on the clients where I think it can make a bigger difference.

But yeah, I think with the commoditisation of media … I think that’s the challenge now, who’s got the best data, who’s got the best system and I guess, that is incredibly powerful and potent. But also, I think it does lend to the suggestion that like, well, it can all be done the same way.

So, I think that the really good media leaders are the ones who can help really start to take that as toolkits and inputs but bring something so much bigger and better to it.

Darren:

And so, what do you think was lost when we separated media and creative? Because we’re now seeing a trend without putting them back together, though some of the independents are trying to do it. But certainly, we’re seeing at least a philosophy, if not an action to try and connect the two back together.

Emma:

I think there is a lot to be said for that. I think what we lost when we separated it was maybe the misguided notion that an idea can be conceptualised, without thought for how somebody was going to experience it. And that’s the whole idea of connections, finding the experience of it is as important as the message.

And I think that’s the big shift, where do I put my ads versus how do I create this connection? And I think that’s what media brought to the table. It’s here’s how you can create a connection that isn’t just “I’m going to tell somebody, something, somewhere”. But it’s actually thinking about audiences, thinking about placement, thinking about when and where, and all of that kind of context, I think is really critical.

We went through this so many years ago when we were building a media practice at Leo with Diageo. I remember the constant thing was, “Hey, well, yeah it’s just the bringing back together of the two things, and this should have happened.”

And my take on that is, had it not divorced, that renaissance of media wouldn’t have happened. Because I started when media and creative were together. I’d started at Leo Burnett in … I’m not going to even say, but back when they –

Darren:

I always say last millennium.

Emma:

Back when they were together. And I remember at that time, media was still … and not that this massively changed, but it was really kind of told what to do. So, it was like, “This is what’s going to happen. And these are the places, and this is what I need you to do.”

And I think that divorce to some extent created a voice for media. And I think it let places like Bellamy Hayden and Naked thrive, and go and create that, even like … not really Starcom, but  Mindshare was an incredible planning house at that time.

And I think that would never have happened had they been the media arm of a creative agency. I think that the idea that it’s a practice, and that in and of itself, it’s got some shape and importance so that when it comes back together, I think there’s more of a voice. So, you’re not just getting dictated to by creatives.

Darren:

Sorry, you’re making me laugh and I’m trying to stop it because we sit there now in media pitches going, “Well, here’s two and a half hours of a conversation around media.” And I can remember being in pitches where the creative, the strategy, the creative was presented. And then it was like, “Oh, we’ve only got five minutes, show us the media,” was the very end of it.

It was like let’s do all the colour and the show and tell, and we’ll tag it on the end. Whereas, now, it gets lots of time and lots of discussions, which is great.

Emma:

Yeah, and maybe interestingly, I wonder whether it’s almost flipped. So, certainly, in the US, every major pitch is a media pitch, even when it’s a creative pitch. Like anything that’s really highly scaled, the primary thing that’s driving it is media. And I think those decisions are now starting to shift. So, now, it’s interesting as to whether we will have different disciplines over time. Like maybe media will lead creative, could be.

Darren:

It’s interesting you should say that because the best examples I have of where the two are brought back together, are all from the US. And the old saying about putting the tube back into the toothpaste is really stupid because it’s not about going back to what we had but finding a new way going forward.

And I really love the fact that media agencies have access to so much data. They have publisher data, they have platform data, they have their own data. They have their clients’ data, more data than they could poke a stick at.

And the really great amalgam of the two is where media actually starts the process by giving the strategists huge … whether they’re creative agency or media agency, it’s irrelevant; but huge amounts of data and insights into customer behaviour, or consumer behaviour that then enriches the strategy and enriches even the creative brief to the creative team, because there’s so much about what the person’s done.

It’s no longer homeowners with children, this is no longer this broad segment. They get down to really deep segmentation that’s brought to life by the behaviour of those people, it’s fascinating.

Emma:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, in the US, look at the wealth of data there, It’s pretty incredible. Certainly, in our group, with the Epsilon acquisition and all of the data that brought to us, just the granularity … we used to do segmentations and we would build these segments, and we would be like here … it’s almost like you were hoping that this is the consumer that you were going to talk to.

And now, you’re like I can build that addressability into everything I do. So, the gap between knowing and doing has really been removed. And so, I think using that to better understand that granularity of data paired with the bigger picture of, okay, but where do we go with that, I think is pretty great.

Darren:

Yeah, absolutely. Now, you did mention, and you’ve mentioned a couple of times about being part of Leo Burnett is part of Publicis, and Publicis is a whole range of different companies, but all owned by one holding company.

There seems to be the industry, holding company industry split. We’ve got IPG and Omnicom Media Group on one side who are very much about their individual brands. But Publicis and especially, the concept of Publicis One, and this idea that they are parts that can come together ─ years ago, was WPP’s horizontality under Sir Martin, but even Mark Read seems to be going down that same path.

How do you as the leader (and you are a leader of Leo Burnett), how do you reconcile the strength and importance of the Leo Burnett brand inside the concept of the Publicis One?

Emma:

Yeah, definitely. I think in the early years of Power of One, this was the reckoning, it was like, “hang on a minute, are we all gonna go away?” And I remember that was a lot of the conversation and we have had many of these conversations… and the fact is, it’s sort of back to the media piece. You need both, you need depth and breadth.

And the thing that I think is, I know what our superpower is, and this is what Mike Rebelo talks about is to weaponise and connect; to know what your superpower is and know where you need partners. And so, that’s the beauty of it ─ I can’t do everything as Leo Burnett. There are so many things that are going to be right for our clients, that we just aren’t the right solution for.

But within the group model, we are able to provide that solution. And so, again, it doesn’t mean that you have to go on contract with a whole other agency. I can literally go upstairs and say, “Here’s a specialist that we can bring to this particular project that will enhance it.”

So, to me, it’s such a future-proof model because it really is thinking about brands as platforms and saying, so the core of your platform might be based on creativity and that’s us. But on these particular things, here’s where we bring Balance Internet, and they can help you with your DTC strategy or here’s where we can bring Sapient to the table, here’s where Digitas is engaged.

And again, those things don’t have to be by everybody all the time, but it can be, “I just need an answer for this particular thing, but looks like parts of a person, or really securing the right people to the right problem.”

So, to me ─ and maybe I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid too much, I think it’s really helpful. And I know in many of the businesses I work on and that we work on, it creates a better solution. So, you don’t have to be, “We can’t answer this, we can’t help you with that.” It actually expands our impact. And it makes us really clear about what is our core.

Darren:

And Mike Rebelo said that you work and report on a market P&L. So, that means that there’s not that, “Oh, this is my client,” you’re not playing a protection game, I guess.

Emma:

Yeah, again, I guess it goes back to that whole ─ I honestly feel like it’s generosity. If you do good things for your clients and you have their best interest at heart, I think that eventually everything kind of comes your way.

And so, it’s the same thing with the group. We’re running our race, but our race is part of a pretty great suite of people who can help you. And it really is that support. We know what we need to do, we know the strengths and weaknesses of the stuff that we’re up to. And we know where there are great partnerships and connectivity within the groups. And we do look at it in totality.

So, it’s a good model, I think. I’ve worked in the Omnicom model and it’s very different. So, that is build everything in a brand. And I think that is really great for the brands because that makes them feel really strong. I think it’s really hard to truly do because eventually, you’re gonna run out of people and investment and you can’t do everything. Whereas, I think this helps us.

And the other thing is, the group’s investing in things. They’re buying companies, and data, and things that are about future-proofing us. That is what the benefit of being part of a wider solution is, is that it’s not just the agencies, it’s all the infrastructure that comes with the idea of building brands for a more platform world.

Darren:

And I think from a marketer’s point of view, there’s still the opportunity to go to Leo Burnett or go to Saatchi’s or go to Carat and still have that sense of the brand that each of those represents and knowing that the Publicis group is behind it.

I see the metaphor has been like a department store with multiple entries and each entry is specific to the choice of the customer. So, they can enter from the entry into the Publicis department store … well, it used to be the drug store on the-

Emma:

Yeah, the Champs Elysees.

Darren:

Yeah, the Champs Elysees. But the metaphorical department store is whatever best suits you from a cultural and a values perspective.

Emma:

That’s exactly it. And it’s like, well, what is it that you need? And that might be, “Hey, I actually just want you, Leo Burnett to manage all of these other partners for us”, and we can do that. Or it might be actually, “I’m really interested in creating this cross-functional team” and the benefit is that it’s unbranded. We can do that.

We’re a little bit less precious. I mean, we know the thing that Leo Burnett brings to the table and why you buy us. And that’s my job, is to make sure that the marketplace understands that.

But there are many times when I’m going to take my Leo hat off and put my group hat on and work as a team with my colleagues. And I personally, really enjoy that. And I think for some clients, that’s great. And for other clients, they don’t need that. So, it’s really designing the right thing.

Darren:

Emma, this has been a terrific conversation. Clearly, just looking at your background and your experiences, listening to you talk now, I’m really excited to see what you’re going to do in the next 12 months, three years, five years. I think you know, it’ll be terrific to watch.

Thank you for taking the time and sharing that with us.

Emma:

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been great to spend this rainy afternoon thinking about creativity and beautiful agencies.

Darren:

Now, there’s something you mentioned before, and you were talking about knowing what your super power is. So, I wouldn’t mind if you indulge here; thinking about your personal superpower, if you were a superhero, which one would you be?

Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media, and commercial communications professionals, Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by Darren Woolley and special guests. Find all the episodes here

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    Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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