IPA Adaptathon blog: Diversification means adding, not substituting

IPA president Ian Priest
IPA president Ian Priest

Diversification means adding to what we already do, not substituting says IPA president Ian Priest.

We’ve just recently held the Diversification Adaptathon, as part of my ADAPT agenda with four highly successful events: a debate featuring some provocative comment and discussion, and practical, hands-on, AdaptLab, sessions at The Bakery, Imagination and Google. 

The scope has been enormous: everything from tech, using data and insight, to seeing how film-makers and game-show developers bring creative concepts to life.

By definition, we’re in experimental territory here. That’s inevitable when you branch into new areas. It’s all about finding out what works, and what doesn’t.

That’s why we have the AdaptLabs. It’s difficult experimenting on your own. When we do it collectively, there’s more chance of getting it right.

The IPA has a real role here, bringing agencies together, giving them an environment where they can experiment, and sharing the learnings.

And of course, in this new world, we need to collaborate more. We’ll be doing it more with clients, with other agencies, with other types of creative, and with other forms of suppliers.

I think Coca-Cola’s 70:20:10 approach   is right: you’ve got to set aside time and budget to experiment with bold ideas – ones which you don’t know will work -- in this digitally complex, fragmented world.

But it’s really important to remember that diversification – in whatever forms it takes, whether content, gamification or tech-based development – is not an alternative to what we already do. There’s no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Diversification is an addition, but it’s an area where the core skill of agencies – creating strategies that connect brands with consumers – is even more vital.

Don’t just take my word. This is what Hamish Priest (no, relation – honest), global media innovations manager for Unilever’s Dove, said at the Adaptathon: "Agencies are critical because they understand our brands better than anyone."

One of the real highlights of this Diversification strand so far has been hearing from big advertisers – Unilever, Coca-Cola, BMW – about what they’re doing that’s new and different.

This tells me it’s mainstream – it’s not just pockets of niche activity at the margins. These are advertisers others look to emulate. Where they lead, others will follow.

One of the things I’ve loved about the Diversification strand has been the make-up of the participants, whether speakers or delegates. They’re all at the younger end of the industry. Lots of planners, media and creative; lots of creatives, most of them young. All of them digitally savvy.

It matters because much of the drive for this change is going to come from the bottom up. We don’t live in a top-down, hierarchical world any more. These are the next generation of ad industry leaders, and it’s right that they’re embracing change.

There’s a real sense that everyone is up for this.

It’s vital also that this relates this to the agency business model, which brings me back to the P for Performance strand of ADAPT. Commercially, diversification is a challenge to us all.

But new forms of output, new partnerships and new services should lead to new forms of remuneration. There’s motivation and reward involved. If it works for the client, we should get paid accordingly.

Let me know what you think, or post your opinions with the IPA. We’ll be reporting back soon on how the next 100 days are progressing with diversification.

And stay tuned to find out more about the forthcoming ADAPT sessions, in May, July and October. 


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
Diversification and the future chief marketing officer
Partner Content
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo