What were the hot topics at this year's Advertising Week Europe?

Missed Advertising Week Europe 2018? Campaign rounds up the key talks and themes, with recurring topics including data, the agency model, and diversity.


Interpublic chief executive Michael Roth kicked off the week by telling delegates how he managed to turn an "all white, all male" company into one with 54% female leadership.

For Uncommon co-founder Nils Leonard, the industry faces real difficulties over bringing people into advertising who haven’t been to university. While they are being hired, Leonard explained, they aren't progressing because they aren't being given enough time and attention: "That’s something not enough of us are talking about, which is actually I don’t think it’s hard to get people like that into agencies and companies. Where it fucks up is once they’re in, no-one gives them the time and teaches them."

Karen Stacey, chief executive of DCM, argued that the very term "millennial" prevented leaders from understanding young people entering their businesses. She disputed the "snowflake" stereotype of people aged between 18 and 34, and said such labels can become self-fulfilling if not challenged at an early stage.

The agency-client relationship

Sir Martin Sorrell, speaking from New York via video-link, said WPP is reacting to top marketers' calls for their agencies to change by delivering more agile and creatively-driven agency structures. He said: "What [Procter & Gamble's] Marc Pritchard and [Unilever's] Keith Weed are signalling, and other advertisers have signalled, is that we have to be more responsive, more agile, less bureaucratic, less layered, more principle-driven, in the sense of driven by creative principle."

Among many discussions about the agency-client relationship and the future of agency models, the current flurry of media reviews – often referred to as "Mediapalooza 2" – prompted marketers from More Than (Di Bowden) and Barclays (Tom Corbett) to share their reasons behind recent reviews

Separately, eBay advertising boss Rob Bassett argued that media agencies laid the ground for their own demise. He explained: "They got the stage where they’re pushing to their own demise because they deskilled what they do," he said. "I would love it if there was more of a move to thinking a bit harder about media choices and putting craft rather than analysis at the heart of it."

However, media agencies expressed frustration over the lack of understanding among client marketing and procurement teams of what it takes to run digital media-buying operations in the current environment. M/SIX global chief executive Jessica Burley said: "There has to be a moment of truth that [digital media] actually costs more than you think it does. We need to explain that fully to our clients."

Media owners on content and advertising

Google's EMEA president Matt Brittin said making it easier for news publishers to sign up subscribers is a priority for the search giant. Brittin spoke alongside Guardian Media Group chief executive David Pemsel, who has spurned a subscription paywall for The Guardian in favour of voluntary contributions.

George Osborne, the editor of the Evening Standard, told adland he will cover the paper in advertising "as many times as we are asked to wrap it". The former Conservative chancellor also insisted he is "perfectly capable of distinguishing my own personal loyalties versus what is in the interests of the paper".

Marketing strategy

Consumers will always be able to spot when a partnership is being used cynically, Grey’s joint chief creative officer Vicki Maguire warned. Maguire spoke about the Marks & Spencer brand tie-up with Paddington 2 for last year's Christmas campaign, alongside the retailer's director of brand and marketing Rob Weston. 

Alongside her co-chief creative officer Caroline Pay, Maguire also warned the advertising practioners to spend less time worrying about making mistakes and more time making them, as it was the only way that the industry would progress.

M&S was back later in the week to talk about marketing strategy, with head of customer experience Maria Koutsoudakis admitting that inclusive marketing is "not second nature" for the brand. 

Video by Georgina Brazier

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