What Will Be the Talk of 4A’s Next Year?

We asked 2018 attendees

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Several things dominated the conversation at the 4A’s Accelerate conference in Miami last week: the agency-client relationship, how agencies will handle the #MeToo movement, what’s the best way to build a diverse and inclusive agency and the Parkland students who spoke to advertisers about gun control.

But will those topics be at the forefront of the 2019 edition of 4A’s Accelerate? The answer, according to the marketers Adweek spoke with, is yes. And those issues are only going to become more critical.

“[Brands’] business pressures are enormous just as ours are,” said Kathleen Brookbanks, Hearts & Science COO. “They are under tremendous pressure to try to do things differently, to find more efficient ways to work, to have more nimble and open ways to work. They will question long-term relationships that rely on agencies, and that will make it tougher on us.”

Here’s what else 4A’s attendees had to say about what to expect in 2019:

Michelle Headley, svp operations and production, Alma

“While we’re certainly making advancements and inroads, hopefully we’re still growing in [diversity and inclusion] where it’s more about the success stories and not the ‘how-to.’ We’re really making improvements in diversity and inclusion, not from the outside-in, but the inside-out. The work is being done from a multicultural lens and not a check-the-box standpoint.”

Steven Erich, founder and managing director, Erich & Kallman

“The talent issue continues to get worse and worse; I think the diversity issue is not going to get better anytime soon; #MeToo—none of that is going to take a year to be solved.”

Debby Reiner, CEO, Grey New York

“How this industry continues to be a magnet for future creativity will be the ongoing conversation. We are at an inflection point. This year will be able getting clarity about where we as an industry want to add value. Next year, there will be a lot of conversations about how we set ourselves up for that next generation.”

"Defining the role of agencies after this latest round of P&G led cuts. Is it narrowing the focus to creativity like Marc Pritchard talked about? Or is it competing with the consultancies?"
Niall McKinney, managing director international at Avado

Marina Filippelli, director of client services, Orci

“I think there’s some value as we’re talking about disrupting the industry and all the challenges that we’re faced with, I think small and midsized independent agencies are going to have a big role in that. I feel like [multicultural agencies] are going to have a big role in that. So I think the content needs to be relevant to those agencies as well.”

Sean Reardon, CEO, Zenith USA

“Knowing our industry, it’s probably going to be the next phase of duopoly conversation. We haven’t gone far enough on #MeToo. It should affect other departments, not just be influencing the creative work. The other big one is: Are we consultants? Are we advertisers? Are clients bringing work in-house? It’s probably a combination of those things.”

Niall McKinney, managing director international at Avado

“Defining the role of agencies after this latest round of P&G-led cuts. Is it narrowing the focus to creativity like Marc Pritchard talked about? Or is it competing with the consultancies? But it will be a bifurcation of some agencies that solve problems in a creative way, while others will go, ‘No, we’re going to compete with consultancies.’ Many agencies haven’t made that choice and it will cause a lot of pressure.”

Kristen Gengaro, managing partner, TBWA/WorldHealth

“There’s a lot of talk this year about new agency models, so the old models are no longer working. I think there’s been a call to action to people to reinvent the way we think. I think if we haven’t done that by next year, we might have bigger problems. If we haven’t figured it out in 12 months, it might be a moot point to talk about next year.”

"We haven’t gone far enough on #MeToo, it should effect other departments not just be influencing the creative work."
Sean Reardon, CEO, Zenith USA

Dan Robbins, head of research, Roku

“The pie is getting smaller for [advertisers] on traditional TV. We will see an acceleration of usage and adoption of streaming options. The key thing is the growth of research, attribution and capabilities of OTT. How one ad in OTT actually moves the needle on brand KPIs and quantifying the point at which the first dollar in OTT works harder than the last dollar in traditional TV.”

Alanna Gombert, global CRO, MetaX

“Regulation. There will be more talk of regulation, and it will be coming from the Hill because of the issues that are occurring right now. There’s a political slant to all of this. It’s not just about data leakage or misuse of data. The Honest Ads Act that died on the Hill is going to have a resurgence in a different form. Plus, blockchain won’t be on the side stage, it will be on the main stage.

Laura Rowan, strategy director, Anomaly Group

“Even more data. It feels like there’s a desire for more and more and more. Everyone wants more data now that we know it’s all available. So now, I think those conversations are how we’re using it effectively and what data can you trust, and I think we’ve seen that big data be shaken with certain things.”

David Angelo, chairman and founder, David & Goliath

“When you look at technology and how fast it’s evolved, it’s growing at an exponential rate that you can’t even keep up with. I’m hoping it’s going to be less of talking to ourselves about technology and AI and really go into the heart of what’s tying us all together. … And if brands start embracing that and lead with them, then the mechanics will follow.”

Erik Oster and Lindsay Rittenhouse contributed to this report.

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