Interview Transcript

What is the advantage in having MediaMonks and MightyHive closer together or more integrated, versus the Accenture’s of the world?

Again, it comes back to the motor torpedo boat versus the aircraft carrier; to have a fully integrated business, where people work – that much overworked word – seamlessly, together. On the call to Australia, I had our content people and our data and analytics and digital media people and they work extremely closely. We are moving towards one office in each city. We operate in about 46 cities, in 30 countries. Actually, the great thing about Covid – if there is a great thing about it, as at least 1.6 million people have been killed by this virus; it’s probably higher, given the lack of the veracity of the statistics – is that one of the things it has done has made us eject offices and reduce the number of offices much more quickly than we would have done anyway. Sydney is a very good example. Melbourne were probably in one building already because of jettisoning leases but, in Sydney, we’ll move together as well.

Can we focus on the consultancies, for a moment, and the deep relationships they have with the C-suite and doing digital transformation?

Accenture had a deep relationship with BMW and it didn’t do them any good in the review.

Why do you think that is?

You’ll have to ask them; I’ve got no idea.

Would you be looking to move S4 somewhat into that realm, potentially?

We have continuous debates. I think there is a fourth leg, if you like, beyond first-party data, digital advertising content and digital media, into something more strategic. On the other hand, a lot of what we do is very strategic. I don’t want to take on board these heavy structures that the agencies have. The problem the agencies have is their most highly-paid people are the overpaid people. They’re overpaid and you get this imbalance. The growing parts of the business are the ones that are probably underpaid, which is natural. It’s the analogue that the resources were devoted to, historically.

But those big strategic relationships, with the C-suite, can sometimes get you into bigger accounts?

You make a sweeping statement there. What big relationships?

They’re sticky relationships that the Accentures, the Deloittes have with these companies at C-suite level?

I’m not sure about Accenture and Deloitte. If you’re talking about McKinsey or BCG or Bain, then yes. Deloitte, Capgemini, Accenture; I’m not so sure. When WPP wanted a strategic review, it went to McKinsey.

I’m referring to more the digital transformation work?

But that’s different.

That’s what I was referring to with the more strategic work.

I think Accenture do a good job and, as I’ve said, they are our competition, both on the client side and the deal side of the business. I’ve said that extensively, elsewhere, that they are the competition that we fight, on a day by day basis.

Are there any barriers to non-technology advertisers, such as FMCG and auto, switching from agencies of record?

There’s Inertia and there’s the, this is way we’ve done it for 50 years and this is the way we will continue. Covid-19 was such a shock to the system that, if there is any good that comes out of it is that change agents inside companies have been given more oxygen. I mentioned the steady state model of GDP growth at 2%, 3%, 4%, no inflation, no pricing power, focus on costs. Reduce your costs, increase your share buy-backs, get 5% to 10% of EPS growth. That was the model that went along and that’s been disturbed with a tremendous shock to the system in Q2. Profits were off by 50%; colossal changes, as a result. The model has been disrupted and changed.

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