A view from Janet Hull

How the industry is progressing with ADAPT

IPA director of marketing Janet Hull on how the industry is progressing with Ian Priest's first strand of his ADAPT agenda.


On the A4 between Hungerford and Newbury in Wiltshire one building stands out. It's a pub, called 'The Half Way House'. It's equidistant between the two towns, and offers a perfect excuse to stop and refresh the spirits.

Why is this relevant?

Because we are now at the equidistant point between president Ian Priest's first Adaptathon - Alliances - and the end goal of 100 days of experiments and learning.

 Where have we got to? Do we have cause for celebration? Yes, we do!


This week, (5th November 2013), the IPA president hosted a breakfast meeting for 30 invited MDs, business directors and intermediaries, on the morning of the second day of the IPA’s ‘Good Pitch Week- a series of events, in conjunction with ISBA, for clients and agencies examining the pitch process.

Ian Priest’s mantra was no different from his first Adaptathon; "We need less pitches, more partnerships"; "Clients have a responsibility to make relationships work for the long term." "Long term relationships get better results. It makes business sense."


But the mood of the meeting had moved on. The concept of "Actions not words" had sunk in. Here were 30 senior execs collaborating, hand in glove, on drafting a framework for the 'First 100 Days Relationship Charter' - a new weapon in the relationship management armoury, designed to smooth the transition between incumbent and new agency, and optimise the potential of a sustainable client/agency relationship.

Here were direct competitors, working collaboratively, to make a difference.


Katie Lee, IPA business group chair, was in the driving seat. "How do we manage the anxiety axis between new client and new agency? How do we harness the creativity, innocence and optimism of those early days? How do we develop together the soft KPIs which will underpin our long term commercial success?

 Or, in the words of one of the participants; "How do we stay more dog?'


The recommendation is that the first 100 days of a new relationship are treated as a live experiment of how different cultures and communities can be effective in business together; and that the formal contract - be it legal, financial or psychological - only be finalised once the dust has settled. It makes sense, doesn't it? 

The results of this consultation process will be released to the market in January 2014. Good progress has already been made. But there is still more to do. The AAR are lending their support. And ISBA too. The intention is to develop a joint industry model charter from which clients and agencies can cherry-pick to suit their sector and their purpose. 


"It's not rocket science, but it makes business sense" asserts Kerry Glazer, AAR Group CEO. "The key word is 'mutuality'. Induction both ways. Sharing of data and history. Avoiding the floodgate system. Developing partnership principles. Not getting transactional too early. Building honesty and trust."

"Being commercial too," was Ian Priest’s recommendation.  "We need to be less ‘english’. Address cash flow issues. We have invested heavily in pitching and winning the business. So when can we send the first invoice?"


On Tuesday 19th November, the IPA is hosting another consultation exercise: this time with Professor Julie Hay, our academic expert in organisational psychology. The aim of this event is to nail the principles of a longer-term consolidated relationship contract. (Contact joyce@ipa.co.uk to get involved).

It will pick up on the psychology underpinning strong/client agency relationships, promote resolution rather than conflict, and help agencies and clients confront and be comfortable with human ambiguity and uncertainty.

Again, the outcome of this exercise will be released to the market in January.


Meanwhile, Julie will also pitch to enlist client and agency support for breakthrough research into the impact of stroking patterns on the quality of client/agency relationships. It will monitor how small changes in styles of behaviour can make a big difference to outcomes, using case examples.

While psychotherapist Alison Bone, will continue hosting one-to-one sessions seeking expert advice on managing client agency or inter agency relationships as part of the IPA Relationship Challenge.


The KPIs for the Alliances Adaptathon were: visibility, momentum, results. Looks like we're on target delivering on all three. Phew!

Get involved

The ADAPT agenda is about changing behaviour across the industry. Get involved by going to the IPA’s ADAPT hub as well as joining its LinkedIn group.