This is a very unusual agency," Nigel Jones, the president of Draftfcb London, says. The merger of FCB and Draft makes it a world-first: a global, multi-channel agency with one P&L.
"We bring together all the media and channels," Jones says. "We're about ideas and properties that are big enough to span the whole media and channel spectrum, and we're focused on the return these properties can generate for our client wherever they're used. That's why we're talking Return on Ideas(TM), not just return on investment in a particular medium.
"The merger has given us a rare opportunity to create an agency specifically designed to deliver Return on Ideas(TM). Everything here, from the building and the people, to the way we work, is designed to generate ideas to help our clients spend their budget wisely, and to measure the return. We've started with a new building, a new proposition, new tools, a new way of working, and a lot of people in new and unconventional roles. Other agencies with a lot of baggage will find it hard to do what we're doing."
Jones joined the FCB group as its chief executive in November 2005. He was hired for his track record of business success across the industry. After rising to head of planning at BMP/DDB in the early 90s, he took the prescient step of launching the direct marketing company Jones Mason Barton Antenen, which eventually morphed into Campaign's Direct Agency of the Year in 2004, following a merger with Claydon Heeley in 2000.
"I just happened to have worked in several key parts of the industry," Jones says, in a typically understated way. "We're trying to bring together different disciplines under one roof, one brand, one management. I've worked in one of the best ad agencies and one of the most dynamic and interesting direct agencies. This agency is a culmination of all this - bringing disciplines together and breaking down barriers ... One of the critical elements is having one P&L. It means we are not biased towards particular disciplines, and we can be objective in advising our clients about where to spend their budgets."
At the heart of the agency's reinvention is a new way of working in a team, called the Wheel. Clients work with five agency people: a business leader, an insight catalyst, a data strategist, a content creator and an experience architect. "The Wheel is based on two ideas," Jones explains. "First, all five skills are essential if you want to create behaviour-changing communications across key media. Second, it's called the Wheel because all five work simultaneously with the client.
"We don't believe in the old model of the account manager taking briefs and passing the task on from department to department. The Wheel is a strategically heavy team in order to reduce potential risk for the client upfront, by being tight on strategy. We then have the freedom to take a greater leap with creative ideas."
The experience architects on the team are a rare breed and Draftfcb will be training people up to play this role, under the guidance of the planning head, Simon Calvert, who has experience as both a media and traditional planner. Their job will be to find where and when is the best place for the client to communicate - across any channel or media. "If we are setting ourselves up to advise across digital, direct and advertising," Jones says, "we have to be able to say this is how you should spend your money; and this can only be done if you have experts in media and channel planning who understand all the options."
The best example of the Wheel in action is what the agency terms the Creative Rumble. The Rumble sees several creative teams, often from different offices around the Draftfcb network, working together on a brief for one week, with input from Wheel team members and the client. Designed to create an environment where creatives are totally focused on one issue for an intense period, the Rumble can generate multiple ideas. "It's a big investment, but it works amazingly well," Jones says. "Teams from different offices provide different cultural and creative perspectives. Teams with different channel specialisms mean we're not tied to creating ideas that only work in specific media or channels. One of the welcome by-products of bringing creatives together from around the world is a sense of collective ownership of the ideas, which is rare within global networks."
"Ideas are at the heart of what we are about, but data is also key," Jones continues. "One of the problems with the industry is that data specialists have tended to be confined to the direct agencies, while account planners in ad agencies have become more qualitatively focused. There's obviously a need for qualitative input, but the pendulum has swung too far. Tighter targeting opportunities are available in most media, consumer data is richer than ever and clients want measurable results. All three of these imperatives demand a stronger focus on data - in advertising as well as what used to be termed 'direct'. That's why we've elevated the role of data strategists.
"We want everyone to feel that data is important and useful and that it can help creativity. That's why we've introduced the Smart Room."
One of Draftfcb's new technologically driven assets, the Smart Room has eight large screens, each showing continuously updated data (sometimes updated in real time), bringing brand, consumer and market intelligence to life. "The Smart Room creates a place where the whole Wheel team and the client can get involved in a conversation about data and get excited by it," Jones says. "It's a public statement of the importance of data, and it's a 21st-century way of bringing that intelligence into the centre of the agency in a way that is usable for all."
Draftfcb in London now has more than 205 staff living on one floor of 80 Victoria Street, one part of the 9,000-strong global Draftfcb, which has 180 offices worldwide. "Lots of our rivals are talking about ideas and integration and ROI," Jones says. "The difference here is that we've created an agency and a network with a set of tools and ways of working that enable us to deliver. The news here is being able to deliver in this new world. Agencies know that they need to adapt to meet the challenges ahead, but I don't believe that they can do this without fundamentally restructuring themselves. The merger has allowed us to do this thoroughly and globally."
THE DRAFTFCB SENIOR TEAM
Enda McCarthy , Managing director
A charming Celt, McCarthy has experience with some of the biggest names in the business. Starting out at Publicis in the early 90s, he also worked with Johnny Hornby and Ben Langdon at CDP, then at Euro RSCG with Mark Wnek, Brett Gosper and Chris Pinnington, before taking on responsibility for HSBC and Kellogg at JWT. He came to FCB as the managing director in February 2006.
McCarthy has seen how often agencies arranged in silos bring everyone together only when they can't crack a brief, rather than from the outset. "Clients need the agency to solve problems and I don't see how you can solve them without all the disciplines. The smart thing to do is get everyone together at the start."
He has a passionate conviction in the agency and its potential. "We have the size, scale, scope and resources to answer pretty much any challenge," he says. "We've got something that I don't think anyone else has. Anything is possible here."
- Logan Wilmont, Executive creative director
Wilmont has more than 150 industry awards under his belt, including a mix of 13 gold Pencils, gold BTAAs and gold Cannes Lions. But he's not interested in working for a traditional ad agency.
Having started his creative life in the 80s at BMP, going on to co-found Still Price Court Twivy D'Souza, he embarked on a career in the US, spending seven years at New York's Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners. He left after its sale to return home.
"The thing I enjoyed at Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners was that we weren't advertising-led," Wilmont says. "We had to build something and use creative tools to solve the problem. We used talkability, not just advertising." More recently, he was a creative director at Naked.
Wilmont chose to work at Draftfcb because it is most in tune with his thinking. He says:"It's a combination of an historically great above-the-line agency and a successful through-the-line company. What's fascinating is that it demolishes the line."
- Simon Calvert, Executive planning director
Calvert is one of those rare planners who has valuable experience in different disciplines and in different sorts of agencies. Before he joined Draftfcb in 2006, he was the head of strategy at Proximity UK. Over his 20 years in the agency business, he has worked in client service at top London ad agencies, switching to planning and then into media strategy, followed by a move into an integrated agency as a founding partner of the HHCL Group company Heresy.
Draftfcb's cross-discipline set-up is right up his street. "The brave thing is that we have one single P&L," he says. "It makes planning easier; there's more freedom to talk about what's right for the client and to talk about it early in the process."
He sees part of what he does as spotting great thinking, wherever it comes from. "Thinking will become ever more important to the agency," he says. "Our job is to give clients thinking on how to drive the business forward."
- Stephen Beasley, Head of digital operations
Beasley has turned around Draftfcb's digital department over the past few years. He was brought into the agency in 2004, and built digital from a six-person outfit into the humming machine that it is now, one that employs 35 people. This is the second time he has worked this sort of magic, having helped to develop the award-winning digital department at the direct marketing agency TBWA\GGT.
At Draftfcb, digital accounts for about 33 per cent of all its output. Beasley has worked with a number of clients, including Stella Artois, Vauxhall and Twinings. "We've embraced digital," Beasley says with clear enthusiasm. "We've created a framework, not a prescriptive straitjacket. It's fluid and dynamic. Everyone knows what they do, but everyone's role allows for crossover."
Beasley feels liberated by Draftfcb's philosophy of allowing not only all disciplines under one roof, but also being able to use talent across boundaries. He says: "The department is all about working together, and our agency model is now focused on how to create experiences for consumers."
- Iain Noakes, Head of data planning
With accountability at the heart of the agency proposition, the role of data planning is central. Noakes and his seven-strong team ensure that the right information is mined and exploited using the agency's toolkit. As he says: "Data can come from anywhere. We're trying to put it together in a media-neutral way to find uncommon insights from common data, and give a client the biggest bang for their buck." So in the information glut of the 21st century, this has become an increasingly demanding job.
Noakes arrived at Draftfcb seven years ago with extensive experience in analysing numbers and developing marketing strategies. He came from the direct agency Wunderman Cato Johnson, where he had worked as a data consultant for clients such as Jaguar, Ericsson and Caterpillar. His enthusiastic approach to data, wanting to bring it to life and use it to underpin all that the agency does, matches the new flat structure at Draftfcb. He says: "It's an opportunity to work without any boundaries in an agency that is steeped in history - no partitions, no barriers, no glass ceilings."
- Cameron Taylor, Finance director
Within months of arriving at Draftfcb London as the finance director in April 2006, Taylor found himself at the financial helm of a newly united agency with the task of joining the P&L into one line.
"A year on and it's been one hell of an experience," Taylor says. An Australian in London, Taylor has been in the communications business for almost a decade, building on his experience in the City of London, and as a group financial controller for an international retail operation. He joined Draftfcb after working for the Omnicom Group for eight years.
His experience is the acid test of the drive to integration. "I'm neutral as to where the revenue comes from," Taylor says. "I don't mind if a client is DM, digital or advertising. The one P&L really does give us an unbiased viewpoint."
He points to another advantage for clients in this procurement-led world. "Increasingly, they want to see the ROI and accounting for it is easier. Put yourself in the shoes of a marketing director. Instead of justifying half-a-dozen budgets with different agencies, you've got one common budget."