Ian Priest unveils his ADAPT programme at Cannes

Ian Priest's speech, launching his Presidential programme, at an IPA breakfast today (20th June 2013) at Cannes.

Welcome and good morning to you all.

It’s great to see so many faces here bright and early particularly as I know there were more than one or two glasses of rose consumed last night by many of you – including me!

So, my intention is to ease us all gently into our day over the next hour with an update on my President’s agenda followed by a panel discussion, before you head off to more of what Cannes has to offer.

Joining me on the panel will be two members of the IPA’s Agency Council; Johnny Hornby of CHI and Dale Gall of Profero, as well as two members of the recently formed IPA’s Client Council; Steve Vranakis of Google and Jonathan Mildenhall of the Coca-Cola Company - Cannes Creative Marketer of the Year -now you couldn’t have better than that as a client champion for our agenda.

It’s also good to see that we have other clients here from some of the world’s biggest brand owners (at the last count there were 12 different companies as well as a great selection of agency people (from 19 different agencies) and a number of media and marketing allies, because I believe that closer collaboration between us all will lead to a world that benefits us all – a key theme of my President’s agenda which I laid out at my speech back in April.

It’s one thing to say what I am aiming to do in an inauguration speech. It’s another to put my words into actions, so, over the last two months I have been working with the team at the IPA to begin to build a programme of activities to make my agenda come alive and I want to use this session briefly to share our topline thoughts so far.

The last few years in our industry have taught us to expect the unexpected. We are all being tested and stretched as we cope with the broader economic pressures and the rapid changes that our businesses and markets are experiencing - in large part due to the exponential growth of technology and all that it entails.

As an industry, we need to keep moving forward, evolving and adapting to ensure that the value of the commercial creativity that we provide, remains at the centre of - and critical to - our clients’ businesses, as well as our own.

Because for all the challenges that exist right now, we must never lose sight of the fact that what we do, can - and often does - transform the businesses of our clients. The opportunities this creates for us all in the UK as a centre for world class advertising and the need to keep evolving to maintain and build our position.

And of course we’re here in Cannes with the rest of the world to celebrate the best of these ideas.

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but the last and only time I’ve been to Cannes was back in the late 80’s, when I was a young account executive given the responsibility of flying out a video to my boss who was about to give an important presentation. Admittedly, I didn’t see much of the Festival then but what strikes me now is how much Cannes has also changed. From an often insular celebration of the best work - by the creative community for the creative community - to a gathering of everyone involved in the broader world of marketing to meet, discuss and be inspired by game changing commercial creativity in traditional channels as well as the newer groundbreaking areas.

In short, Cannes has stayed relevant and grown more powerful by adapting.

I want to use my Presidency to challenge us as an industry to do the same. To evolve with our clients, not in isolation, but for our mutual gain. To experiment and push forward. To promote best practice and oust bad practice. To measure, share and learn. Ultimately, my goal is to capture all this in a new blueprint for success: a commercial creative contract between clients and agencies that will benefit everyone.

That is why we have created the Client Council as allies and champions and thought leaders to help us work together across a programme of coordinated initiatives, events and experiments to accelerate the evolution of our industry.

Many of the programme’s activities will be building on previous IPA work which has been successful such as Magic and Logic, Good Pitch, Creative Pioneers Challenge and the Effectiveness Databank.

And some will be totally new - such as The Bakery accelerator; publications such as The Long and Short of It; thinktanks on payment by results and new training and qualifications that are opened up to clients.

The programme will involve input from a whole number of the IPA working groups, from across all disciplines in our memberships, alliances with industry bodies representing clients and agencies, as well as intermediaries and media partners, again some of whom are here today.

One of the first things we have done as a team at the IPA is to work with experiential agency, Imagination to create a brand and identity for this programme to allow it all to hang together as a set of aligned initiatives over the next two years.

We have called the programme ADAPT as an IPA owned property addressing the needs of the adindustry. Key IPA initiatives can then become part of the programme as we use the logo as a type of kite mark.

We have then used the acronym as a way of focusing the five areas we are going to work on: Alliances, Diversification, Agility, Profit and Talent with each area having its own identity as an adaptation of the generic logo as we concentrate on different areas at specific times of the programme.

Not only logos, but also, in keeping with my Darwin analogy of the need to adapt, Imagination have widened the identity to incorporate animals -so you may have an octopus diversifying his tools of the trade, a crab showing off his talent for juggling, a hedgehog showing his agility or a penguin learning to fly quickly with jet engines – all aiming to engage, involve and bring to life different elements of the programme that can be used to advertise, or as merchandise for some of the events – creating an integrated family tree or identity for my whole agenda across the two years.

And, as a focal point to each area, we are working with Imagination to create a new series of events called ‘Adaptathons’™, where we invite clients and agencies to be inspired to experiment with new ways of doing things, both on the day and across a 100 day programme.

At each of these ‘Adaptathons’™ we will be looking to attract significant numbers of you, your clients and agency staff to contribute and attend these events with the aim of experimenting.

Each ‘Adaptathon’™ will follow a format based on evidence that we will present, we will set up a provocation or common enemy that both agency and clients want to change or adapt. Speakers from relevant fields will then inspire us to think differently, and we will be challenged by live experiments on the day and pledges to take these out to the wider community.

We start with Alliances and the most critical alliance we have – with our clients. Our aim is to promote better, bolder and ideally longer term relationships or “partnerships” as there is evidence that they produce better work and thus better commercial returns for both parties. In turn, we hope to reduce pitches to save time and costs on both sides – and when there is a genuine need to pitch - that best practice is followed and new experiments are tried for mutual gain.

We are currently working on the Alliance ‘Adaptathon’ which will be taking place in the autumn and the IPA’s Client Service and New Business Groups and allies, Aprais (the agency-client relationship specialists), intermediaries and various editorial partners are all in discussions to help develop and distribute the content for the day and experiments after.

Following on from this, diversification of products and services is an area that will be looked at next, as agencies evolve from their traditional bases. I thought it was interesting to see WPP’s announcement only last week that they see themselves as “not an advertising group any more but more as a data, technology and marketing company”. And many of us are developing more into the wider area of creating and distributing content as brands look to new ways to engage their customers’. Moreover, clients are keen to harness the wider creative skills an agency can bring to their wider commercial issues when we can demonstrate a genuine understanding of their business. An example is how my agency, VCCP, worked with O2 to make their customer bills clearer, more personal and more interesting, which led to call centre costs being reduced significantly and usage of phones increasing. So, helping agencies innovate, as well as helping their clients innovate, is something we want to explore more.

Agility is an area where we need to evolve. We live in a real time, always on world and some of our processes are still geared too much around set pieces of TV. I used the example of Oreos in the Superbowl in my inaugural speech, to show how some client/agency teams are looking at the idea of brand newsrooms and acting like publishers to connect with consumers. We need to look into new ways of briefing, new ways of idea generation, production and evaluation which measure during as opposed to after the event.

Profit is an area that we have looked at for a while and the need to work with the other P of procurement to find better and fairer ways to be remunerated – and for us to consider different business models as our businesses evolve. A challenging area that needs evolving.

Then, finally, T for Talent and how we attract retain and develop a more diverse workforce building on Nicola Mendelsohn’s Creative Pioneers programme encouraging new skillsets to our industry.

So there you have a topline summary of the various activities that will form the basis for the ADAPT programme for the next 18 months. As I mentioned, more details will follow but I hope you can get an idea of the shape of what we are trying to create.

Our ask is for all of you - clients and agencies - to get involved in the programme to experiment and share your learnings for the benefit of all. We’d like agencies to bring their clients and clients to bring their agencies. As we will all benefit if we actively experiment and learn collectively in these key areas.

Thank you for your support today and I look forward to your involvement in due course.

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