British advertising legend Peter Mead to open SAGE – Secrets of Agency Excellence conference, as program is revealed

Peter Mead

Mead: When In Doubt Be Nice

The co-founder of legendary British advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Peter Mead, is to appear on stage to deliver the keynote at this year’s SAGE – Secrets of Agency Excellence conference.

Mead, who is also the chairman of Omnicom Europe and vice chairman of Omnicom globally, is famed for the culture he created at the agency, which was this month named by AdAge as among the global agencies creatives most wanted to work for.

He is the author of the book on agency culture When In Doubt Be Nice: Lessons From A Lifetime in Business, in which he argues that agency bosses do not need to be ruthless to succeed; instead they need to earn the loyalty and belief of their staff.

SAGE logoSAGE is organised by Mumbrella and curated by deputy editor Nic Christensen. The one-day masterclass takes place in Sydney on Thursday 19 November.

Discounted early bird tickets go on sale today, with bookings made over the next fortnight saving $150 per person.

This is the third year Mumbrella has organised SAGE, which is aimed at helping agency leaders learn how to build a successful agency. Further highlights include former STW chief operating officer Chris Savage – one of the most respected agency executives in Australia – delivering a masterclass on pitching and new business pipelines.


Savage: Business masterclass

Savage will set out the six pillars of new business: positioning, pipeline, pitching, pleasing, proactivity and a “secret sauce” sixth pillar.

Other sessions will include a session on how to develop your agency reputation with three industry experts GroupM’s Greg Graham, Remarkable Group’s Lorraine Murphy and Tag PR boss  Tim Addington giving tips on how to engage with the national and trade press and build a strong industry profile.

With Collective’s Justin Hind, One Green Bean’s Carl Ratcliffe and We Are Social’s Susie Shaw will discuss the de-siloing of agency models and how they are stepping outside their traditional realms to advantage of the new fragmented media world.


Murphy: Remarkables


Shaw: We Are Social

And senior marketers Arno Lenior, Helen Lecopolous and Jon Bradshaw will talk honestly about their time leading major brands and what they wish agencies would do differently. The panel will answer key questions including how smaller agencies can get on the radar of a bigger client and the rules to a better agency-client relationship.

While in The Art of Buying and Selling Your Agency Match Media’s John Preston, BWM Dentsu’s Rob Belgiovane and JWT’s John Gutteridge will talk about how you move your agency from a job into a self-sustaining entity that has value separate from its owners. The panel will also look at what is it that those who buy agencies look for in their acquisitions.

There will also be a session on how to better engage with procurement departments, practical case studies on how agencies can pick up more pieces of the ad budget and a question time with leaders from marketing, media, creative and public relations talking about how agencies must reorientate their businesses for the modern media world.

Speaking to Mumbrella ahead of the conference, Mead warned that agencies are increasingly putting media ahead of the broader advertising message and that the current raft of global pitches – dubbed “mediapalooza” – is a sign that the industry is failing to clearly define its value to marketers.

Mead, who will deliver his keynote “Why the advertising industry needs something to believe in”, said he was increasing worried that agencies across the spectrum – be they creative, media, PR or digital – are increasingly struggling to demonstrate the effectiveness of their ideas and how they will change a marketer’s business.

Mead’s session will cover a range of topics including agency culture, the impact of data-driven marketing and the question of whether agencies have lost the ability to persuade.

Asked about the impact of “mediapalooza” Mead said: “It is absolutely is having an impact. Someone very important in our business, earlier this week, told me we are now at a stage where the media is seen as more important than the message.

“I profoundly disagree with that,” said Meade. “As an industry if we still believe that golden key thing we bring is the efficacy of our idea then what you have to do is create the best environment where that idea can hatch.”

AMV BBDO is Britain’s biggest ad agency, with its previous work including one of the most celebrated ads of all time, the Guinness Surfer ad.

“There is an important issue of what business are we in anymore,” said Mead. “Is it targeting or persuading? That is an area that feels out of kilter at the moment.”

“As companies we have to create something to believe in otherwise we are dead. There has been a proliferation of media capability, but the value of the idea is actually still more important than it ever been.”

“Great agencies need to create environment whee people work better when they are treated properly and where those great ideas can come to fruition.”

To view the SAGE 2015 program and find out how to buy discounted early bird tickets, click here.


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