Greg Felgate, Partner and Director at Finn in Leeds tells IPM what they’ve been up to over the past few months, their thoughts on how they think the client and agency relationship is changing, what that means for agencies in the future and what he’d say to a senior new business target if he had 30 seconds with them in a lift.
IPM: Hi Greg, thanks for talking to us. How are things going at Finn Communications at the moment?
GF: Things are going really well at the moment. We’ve won some great new clients recently and last summer, we hired strategy director Andrew Hovells from PHD and creative director Chris Weston from Brave, who have really helped us kick up a level. Alongside our amazing existing team, they helped win those new clients and they are improving our offer to our current clients, too.
IPM: How is your business developing and evolving – any interesting plans for 2019 you can share with us?!
GF: Over the years our clients have told us that we’re much more than “just a PR agency” and we have finally agreed with them! So we’re evolving from a PR agency to an integrated agency, powered by PR.
We really believe in the power of PR – we take the best of its thinking, its emotional intelligence, its ability to understand what the real issues are for real people and we create content that resonates and helps our clients grow. Our job is to see past the ‘consumer’ profiles, the stereotypes, the buckets marketing puts people in and see everyone for what they really are – real people!
This enables us to develop ideas that can be advertised, rather than advertising ideas, meaning that our campaigns can work in any channel – last year our creative even came to life on billboards, in mobile games and on-pack. We then combine that PR thinking with some clever media buying, which enables us to achieve disproportionate reach for our clients.
We’ve actually been delivering more shopper activations than ever recently. For us, shopper needs to be aligned to the brand strategy and help the brand grow – you won’t see delivering an on-pack promotion that sits in a silo offering people the chance to win £20,000 if they buy a pack.
IPM: I wanted to ask you how you think the client and agency relationship is changing what that means for agencies in the future?
GF: Clients are facing a few really big challenges at the moment and this is obviously affecting the type of work agencies do and will do in the future.
Brexit (yawn!) is causing a lot of turbulence and uncertainty in the market, which is resulting in decreased consumer spending and therefore a lot of big brands and retailers are reporting lower than expected sales. Clients’ budgets are also going to be less in 2019 than they were in 2018, which is the first time budgets have decreased since 2012. Interestingly, because clients are under increased pressure to drive sales in the short-term, clients are revising their budgets and putting more money into sales promotion than any other area at the moment (IPA Bellwether Report – 2018 Q4).
Clients have also got to try and workout what channels are the best place to spend their money in, in the face of the ever-changing media landscape. Traditional TV watching is declining (nearly 20% of all TV consumption is through Netflix, which doesn’t have any advertising. And its growing) print readerships are decreasing, trust in Facebook is really low after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and influencers are under more and more scrutiny to be transparent about what content is paid for and what isn’t.
In-housing is in growth and we’re also seeing a trend in clients reducing the number of agencies they are working with. Clients don’t want the hassle of managing eight agencies when they can have two or three really good ones.
All of these changes means its crucial that agencies offer clients incredibly good value across a range of services that makes sense to come from one agency, without being jacks of all trades and masters of none. Agencies need to offer brilliant C Suite counsel and / or fantastic delivery (preferably both!). Being average across those areas but fantastic at account management and admin is a very dangerous place for agencies to be right now.
IPM: You find yourself in a lift with a new business target, you’ve got 30 seconds to make an impression on behalf of Finn – what would you say and do?
GF: I would spend the 30 seconds asking about them and their current challenges so I could think about a really good follow up!
IPM: Thanks so much for your time Greg – have a great day!
GF: You too!