Diversification and the future chief marketing officer
A view from Janet Hull

Diversification and the future chief marketing officer

Janet Hull, IPA director of marketing on diversification and the future chief marketing officer.

A flurry of articles and platforms have emerged about the future CMO since the IPA's Diversification Adaptathon in February, including a substantial feature in this month’s Marketing from Jamie Kenny at Byte London, a platform at Advertising Week Europe around it, and a feature on CMOs in a rival trade weekly.

All of this activity confirms that the sphere of influence of the future Chief Marketing Officer has the potential to go broader and deeper into the client organisation. Which is good news for marketing and agencies, as long as we can adapt our skills and behaviours to seize this opportunity.

For Ian Priest, IPA President, speaking at the Diversification Adaptathon, the skills stretch required of the inspirational future CMO can be summarised in three words; technology, creativity, intelligence. And it was his namesake, Hamish Priest of Unilever, who brought this to life on the day, with relevant case examples for the Dove brand.

How is the industry responding? And what role can agencies play in supporting these developments?


The AdaptLab at The Bakery (www.thebakerylondon.co.uk) opened the eyes of participants to the role clients and agencies could play in taking new tech to market. With an intermediary like The Bakery providing the conduit to start-ups, it was up to the client and agency to define the need, hone the brief, conduct the search and selection process and ensure that the npd met the agreed deadlines and budget!  But does it work in practice?

Over the last couple of months we’ve already seen experiments that have started as a direct consequence of the day, beginning to bear fruit. Brand activation agency, Lida, for example, have worked with the tech start-up Flockler to launch the ‘Florida Uncovered’ campaign for Virgin Holidays. This competition received hundreds of entries within the first few hours of launching.  And there are more in the pipeline.


The AdaptLab at The Imagination Gallery stretched the boundaries of industry creativity through case examples from film, television and experience design. Participants began to appreciate the creative role of producers, and project managers as well as the more specialist creative teams, in turning big ideas into reality. It resonated well with Hamish Priest’s explanation of Unilever’s role as idea generator, orchestrator and creative lead on branded content for the Dove Sketches project, working with multiple partners to execute the Unilever vision.

To continue this stream of activity, the IPA has partnered with the BMCA on their event to celebrate the launch of a new media ebook showcasing the best of branded content marketing campaigns.

Taking the opportunity provided by a fleeting visit to the UK last week, the IPA hosted an evening seminar with James Hurman, former managing director Y&R New Zealand, with Donald Gunn (author of The Gunn Report) , Peter Field (author of The Long and the Short of It) and Data2Decision’s Paul Dyson to explore further the cultural conditions, and interplay between client and agency, which have facilitated creative experimentation for award-winning productions like ‘Dumb ways to die’ for Rail Safety and the ‘Adopt a smart dog’ campaign for the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

Attendees were treated to film interviews with the best agency creative directors down under, explaining the ingredients for their success:

-          a culture of openness, acceptance of spectacular failure/or success

-          real world common thinking – doing it for real

-          informality around process – you don’t have to tick every box

-          ideas before execution – letting clients in on the game. 

Now the IPA is exploring ways to take this learning to market in the UK by developing its own branded content forum, including inspirational new training.


The AdaptLab at Google BrandLab exposed participants to the free tools and techniques available through Google (www.thinkwithgoogle.com); including Google Trends, Consumer Barometer and Our Mobile Planet. It provided case examples of how these had been put into practice by brands like Dove and Doritos. Participants left with a clear sense of the importance of their role in the process; in generating insight and developing hypotheses.

The IPA’s partnership with Google Squared training continues to upskill the industry in monitoring and mastering data, and providing the necessary intelligence platform from which to create ‘content beyond brand’.

Technology, creativity, intelligence

Technology, creativity and intelligence provide the three routes CMOs and their agencies can take to diversify their role and strengthen the impact they make in organisations for brands. We’ll be tracking progress on all these initiatives and playing our part in helping the industry shape its future.

For more on this read ‘D for Diversification’, a new publication just launched summarising key learnings from the IPA’s Diversification Adaptathon.

Join us for our next groundbreaking adaptathon taking place on 7-8 May where we will be hacking the future for how clients and agencies can become more agile in this always-on world.

Tickets are available for AdaptLabs individually or in a package:

AdaptLab1: Measurement

7th May 8.30-11.30 am

Baking in social and the frameworks for measuring it right from the start with #IPASocialWorks.

AdaptLab2: Media

7th May 3-5pm

Preparing for programmatic trading lessons from the city and trading desks.

AdaptLab3: Creative

8th May 8.30-1pm

Creating real time agility through structuring, budgeting and organising for brand rather than product conversations.