A view from the top
A view from Jerry Buhlmann

A view from the top

Sitting in my office on Friday morning, two hours before the deadline to submit this piece, it feels like a normal week.

That is a mix of good news, less good news, acquisitions, disposals, pitches, meetings, calls, a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner and a video conference with Tokyo.

This doesn't begin to illustrate the texture and variety of the week's content nor the energy of the people I work with.

It is this constant diversity and challenge that make it such a compelling business and maintain the enthusiasm that I feel and encounter every day.

Some themes of the week. It has now been six months since the completion of the Dentsu/Aegis merger and more than a year since the deal was announced. It was, up until Messrs Lévy and Wren decided to jump into a bathtub together, the biggest transaction in advertising, and there has been zero disruption to the business. The integration is moving along smoothly.

But aren’t the cultures so different? Yes. And many people would think this would be a problem. In practice, as a global business, working with different cultures is normal – the values of Dentsu and Aegis are very similar, and values underpin cultures.

Driving the opportunities of Dentsu and Aegis together is a consistent theme during the week and, with budget time approaching, so is the outlook for the advertising business. The news of Tokyo’s win of the 2020 Olympics is very good news and should put the afterburners on for our business over the next seven years. More immediately, the latest Carat adspend forecasts are out. The themes are Southern Europe still declining, growth moderating in Asia and the UK a standout sunny spot, with resurgent growth especially in digital and broadcast. Sounds like a weather forecast; let’s hope it’s more accurate.

Turning to clients: a great week for Burberry – it launched a fragrance for men, Brit Rhythm. A full wrap-around in the London Evening Standard and a die-cut wrap of ShortList add impact to the launch. Nokia had a more challenging week with the announcement of its takeover by Microsoft. On Monday, I get a new Nokia Lumia 1020 with a 41-megapixel camera, instantly making my 2kg Nikon redundant. Nokia’s product quality is now excellent and, with Stephen Elop moving back to Microsoft, the team he built at Nokia may have a much better future than many might think.

On mergers and acquisitions, we sold Aztec, the scan-data services business, to IRi. Good for all and we have more cash in the pot for acquisitions.

A management meeting goes well, with plenty of passionate debate. Equal stars of the show are the translators – it’s incredible how they keep up.

Outside of work, my current obsession is trying to shave some minutes off my triathlon time. The training isn’t glamorous. Seymour Place municipal baths is a short walk away. It’s cheap: eight pence a length if you do 60 and if you do them in 30 minutes. Running up Regent’s Park Tube stairs is free with an Oyster card and is better with heavier bags. Last weekend was bike training in the rain.

My eldest son negotiates his university maintenance allowance with the bill payer, as I’m known – he will go far.

This week, unusually, I haven’t used one of my favourite brands and a new client – British Airways. It features

in my life most weeks, and next week for sure.

Jerry Buhlmann is the chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network

Topics