Top Seven Takeaways from Campaign’s Year Ahead Breakfast Briefing 2024…

Published: Thursday 18th January 2024

By Rachelle Headland

Last week jfdi joined the Campaign Year Ahead Breakfast Briefing in London to hear brands and agencies predict the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and Rachelle Headland was there to give us the low-down:

As someone who’s been a Managing Director of an agency and is now a new business consultant, I was interested in how agencies can sharpen their new business propositions to meet the CMO’s expanding scope of responsibility and also how agency leaders can create vibrant workplaces to get people back to the office and liberate creative teams to create their best work.

Here are my top 7 take-aways:

  1. The ‘Great Negotiation’ between bosses and employees comes to a head.

Jay Young, Chief Client Officer, Talon told us that this will be the year conversations between bosses and young people around hybrid working will come to a head.

The tension is largely around the fact that the cost of a ‘basic level of life’ for young people exceeds entry level salaries and so saving c.£2-4k a year on travel is a good reason not to come into the office.

Talon also told us that 76% of people agree they’ll be outside more in the next 12 months, 85% agree that setting personal boundaries is necessary to survive in today’s world and 82% agree that the uncertainties in the world have made them realise the importance of inner peace.

Inclusion is also still incredibly important part of attracting and retaining talent. Sharon Lloyd Barnes, Commercial Director, Advertising Association, took us through the findings from their biggest ever census amongst people who work in the advertising industry in 2023. Gender as a hinderance to career progression seems to be improving, however the proportion of women who still think it’s a problem is double the proportion of men. 1 in 10 people from ethnic minorities experienced racial discrimination, only 5% of respondents were over 55 years old compared to 21% of the UK working population and only 20% were from a working-class background compared to 40% of the working population. The LGBT+ representation is significantly higher than the national average, but there’s still work to do on inclusion.

  1. Marketing continues to assert its place as the business growth engine.

The Year Ahead for Brands panel felt that despite the tough climate there were reasons to be optimistic heading into 2024. Marketing is back at the forefront of business decision-making and growth, and as the voice of the customer within the business.

Jane Stiller, Chief Marketing Officer, ITV felt it was important to measure the things that matter, champion the voice of the customer and ensure quality and distinctiveness is baked into the product or service.

Toby Horry, Global Marketing Director, TUI felt there was more expectation around marketers and that their remit was growing all the time. The key is surrounding yourself with brilliant people as you can’t be the expert in everything, this includes agency partners.

Nishma Patel Robb, Former Senior Director Marketing, Google UK agreed that marketing’s scope has expanded, posing both challenge and opportunity as unpredictability continues and presenting a need to review the metrics of success.

The panel agreed that distinctive creative was still critical, the Uber work getting a mention and the fact that everyone wants “a Barbie”. Some felt a strong bedrock of brand and marketing gives you permission for these firework moments, others felt we need to be less risk adverse. From a consumer context the panel believed that people would seek more joy in 2024, though more consideration needs to be given to social for these moments, and audio alongside video.

  1. Agencies will embrace new ways to collaborate and create.

The Year Ahead for Agencies panel also talked about the need to engage and inspire their teams in the right way.

Zoe Eagle, Co-Chief, Accenture Song UK said that working together is important, but so is flexibility. Accenture have looked at how to package up the diversity of expertise within their business and ensuring their people can access it. Zoe added that there’s no blueprint for a way forward and that change is required on both sides (agency/client). Workplaces need to be places where people can be themselves and be heard.

Jessica Tamsedge, CEO, Dentsu Creative UK said the biggest challenge is making sure time in the office is meaningful. Technology is a liberator for creativity, removing time consuming admin, but there are different skillsets and ways of creating across Dentsu, so it’s important to recognise that.

Ryan Fisher, President, Wieden & Kennedy London added that our business is about ideas – the excitement is the work we’re creating and clients coming on that journey with us, putting that value on creativity puts value in working in the industry and so it’s important to allow for both spontaneity and collaboration. Ryan also said it’s imperative that we have diverse points of view on the world to help brands blend with culture.

Miranda Hipwell, CEO, Adam & Eve/DDB believes people are willing to give brands time if you give reasons to care enough. Also what agencies now deliver, especially with clients having in house teams, is much more varied in scope and we need to consider new ways of charging for that value.

  1. Brand led transformation will replace digital transformation.

Richard Huntingdon, Chief Strategy Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi made an impassioned speech about: dumping the dogma, bringing back reality and helping clients spot opportunities for growth.

Having seen much talk of digital transformation in recent years, 2024 according to Richard Huntingdon, will be about “brand led transformation”; agencies bringing their imagination and strategic clout to the future of a brand’s products and services. EE being an example, moving from network and broadband provider to entertainment, education, gaming and so on.

As growth is an imperative for brands and economic indicators point to slow growth in the UK, expanding product and service portfolios will be the way forward for a lot of brands.

  1. Relevant creative that increasingly leans into culture.

The Year Ahead for Creative panel reinforced the need to connect with real people in the real world and lean into culture.

Lynsey Atkin, Executive Creative Director, 4creative, Channel 4 claimed we were spoilt for choice with spaces to tell different kinds of stories and that taste and references are still the currency for creative leaders. Lyndsay agreed with the rest of the panel that humour was important, but comedy too must come from observation and insight.

Chaka Sobhani, Global Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett asked us to be more optimistic and turn up in a way that is useful and authentic for the brand. She commended a Comedy Award coming to Cannes to reinforce the craft in getting humour right.

Dan Dawson, Chief Creative Officer, Grand Visual said there are many opportunities to have conversations with people in the real world through a value exchange which could be a laugh, smile, or a break from the routine.

Dan Morris, Executive Creative Director, The Or said how important it was to understand culturally what’s going on, “we are cultural sponges as an industry” and that we should flip the budget pressures in 2024 to an opportunity to try something new.

  1. AI’s growth will come from listening, shopping, and optimising.

Marcos Angelides, Managing Director, Spark Foundry said with fans becoming the new product designers, GPT’s about to become brand specific and AI as your own personal shopper, 2024 will be all about listing to consumers, personalised shopping experiences and optimising – and that everybody has the tools to be creative.

Marco highlighted 3 caveats:

  • privacy compliance: there’s a right way and a wrong way,
  • Effectiveness over efficiency: this isn’t about cutting back.
  • Big data wins: size matters but so does speed
  1. Better collaboration and measurement for greater media effectiveness.

The Year Ahead for Media panel were in agreement with the brand panel in that there’ll be a lot of reset, relearn, unlearn in 2024 but in contrast to the creative panel, felt that media isn’t about taking risks but testing things to minimise risk and avoid missteps.

Natalie Bell, CEO, Manning Gottlieb OMD started by saying that unlocking opportunity and competitive advantage for clients in 2024 will come from Commerce, Creators, Cookies, Content and just to keep the C’s going, Counting and Control (measurement and governance). Natalie added that there’ll be a lot of distractions in 2024 with a general election and an Olympics in Europe, so creative cut-through will be important.

Karin Seymour, Director of Client and Marketing, Sky said the way media is being consumed is now very different and so we need to partner with specialists to drive media effectiveness. e.g. Sky Sports is now on TikTok as social is such an important part of extending a viewing experience.

Kris Boger, MD UK & I, TikTok said that commerce was a huge focus for their platform i.e. content that is informative and useful and that people can transact from. TikTok have also noticed an increase in people using their platform for discovery, such as where to travel to and another big difference versus previous years is accessing entertainment via mobile devices.

Other points raised included not talking about retail media as one thing as it covers many different areas and needs to be broken down and measured in the right way. Also, the heightened understanding of our industry responsibilities as an employer and the impact we can make on consumers through advertising, and where the money is invested.

Brands mentioned for using media well included Uber One (again) who capitalised on relevance, the audio ad for Burger King, the massive Ikea bag on Oxford Street and Peloton building a fitness club on TikTok.