Our Global Summit–Aperture 2022–took place in Amsterdam last month. This was our largest event in the past 15 years. It was abundantly clear that our independent agencies were craving the energizing spirit of being in the same room to collaborate, learn and grow together.
And collaborate, learn and grow together we did. Through inspirational keynote speakers like Cindy Gallop and Wieden + Kennedy’s Blake Harrop, with interactive workshops led by Mindscapes’ Ravid Kuperberg, Curve’s Lizzie Shupak and John Monks, and Co:definery’s Robin Bonn, during educational sessions from Diva Agency’s James Whately and We Are Pi’s Alex Bennett-Grant, by hearing innovative tools from our sponsors Basis Technologies and Talon, and, perhaps most importantly, over dinners, drinks, and receptions, where our 70+ independent agencies were able to reconnect on both personal and professional levels.
A great deal of knowledge and insights were shared over the course of the Global Summit, too much and too ethereal to capture in a single article. However, eight themes stood out that frame the future of not only our network but the advertising and marketing industry as a whole.
Following are the 8 Future-Focused Insights from the Worldwide Partners Global Summit in Amsterdam:
1. Shared Values + Shared Behaviors Can Change the World
If you know Cindy Gallop, then you know she doesn’t mince words. And true to form, she gave us a succinct and powerful equation for the business model of the future:
Shared Values + Shared Action = Shared Profit
When brands come together with their audiences on the basis of values they all share, and when they then collaboratively act on those values, they can make things happen that will not only benefit the brand and its business but also benefit consumers and ultimately benefit society. Cindy believes that advertising can change the world, and we’re right there with her.
2. Creativity Needs Constraints
Starting with a blank page isn’t always a good thing. More often, to get the most creative results, you need to start with a question or a box in which to write – a constraint of some form. “Creativity loves, needs a constraint,” shared Lizzie Shupak, Co-Founder of Curve. “If you can do anything, you have the resources to do everything, you are not going to get a good result.”
In fact, there are rules to breaking creativity rules, as Mindscapes Partner & Trainer Ravid Kuperberg showed us. Breaking out of structural and functional fixedness, “new tasking” things or systems, relocating something to a place that it wouldn’t normally be found, and replicating an existing common practice, solution, or feature for a different situation/challenge are all rules that break creativity rules. And following these rules-against-rules can result in some of the most creative, powerful, and award-winning work.
WPI Creative Leaders attended a special session with Mindscape’s Ravid Kuperberg at the Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam office.
3. “Indie Agency” Can Be Short-Hand For “Good Company”
Independence provides us with a larger opportunity to forgo profit based on ethics and morals. Yet, as Wieden + Kennedy Managing Director Blake Harrop clarified, not every indie company is a good company: “The fact of independence is not what makes a difference. It’s how we make use of our independence.”
To use that independence for good, Blake advises others to protect their employees, be anti-racist, commit to climate action, promote diversity, give back, and elevate creativity.
4. Don’t Do Status Quo
As independent agencies, we adhere to this adage. In fact, as Blake shared, it’s why we’re all here: “Indie agencies exist because they are chasing something better than the status quo.”
We’re not bucking the status quo because we simply want to be different. We’re doing it because we know it’s the only way to make an impact, the only way to drive progress, the only way to be successful. Unsurprisingly, Cindy summed it up perfectly summed with a quote from Zoe Scaman: “Thriving, future-focused businesses create abundance and possibility. Dying, mercenary businesses fight over the scraps of the status quo.” You can have your scraps, we’ll take the abundance.
5. Communities Aren’t Built, They’re Grown
According to Alex Bennett-Grant, Founder and CEO of creative innovation consultancy We Are Pi, we’re in the midst of the biggest cultural shift since the 1960s. New technology, Web3 in particular, is transforming how consumers behave and interact with brands, and how much power they now have (in short, all the power).
Alex shared four key ways that brands must conduct themselves during this cultural shift to connect with consumers and nurture communities: 1. Find your niche(s) to form a real connection; 2. Give your community access for a VIP-pass feel; 3. Invite your community to co-create to make the things they love even better; and 4. Give your community a stake and reward fans for their dedication.
6. Better Relationships Make A Difference
Better relationships make a difference because they make better money. They make a difference because they beat competition. And they make a difference because they create value, which Cairo Marsh, Founder & Managing Partner of WPI Partner Agency relativ*, states “is the outcome of connected human interests.”
That value is created by serving consumers, not selling them. By honoring connection over conversion. By focusing on respect, not simply following rules. This is how Cairo and his team believe that advertising can and should make a difference and change the world.
7. The Metaverse is a Sham
Roblox is not the metaverse. Fortnite is not the metaverse. Decentraland is not the metaverse. The metaverse does not exist.
Instead, as James Whately of Diva Agency very emphatically explained, what everyone is calling the metaverse is actually gaming. And while it’s nothing new, it is very special. Because hundreds of millions of people are gaming every single day, and the opportunities for creative and compelling in-game advertising are untapped. Just make sure you think like a gamer if you plan to reach gamers.
8. Collaborative Leaders Do It Better
"When we talk about leadership and brilliant leaders, we focus on them as individuals, their traits, their strengths,” said Lizzie Shupak. “But none of them were successful on their own. The world and the organizations that we operate within are too complex for any one of us to be a lone wolf.”
Rather than going it alone, Lizzie and Curve Co-Founder John Monks offered tips for being collaborative leaders, and shared the three collaboration archetypes:
Creative Collaboration - used when you are trying to create something new, when collaboration is free, open, and inclusive, requires a facilitator;
Comply Collaboration - best when you want consistency and quality, and which needs a project manager to get results, and;
Compete Collaboration - most useful when speed is a priority, it must be organized and without distractions, and also must have a decision maker involved in the process.
Being together again after three long and challenging years was nothing short of amazing. But it was just the start for our indie agencies, because, as Worldwide Partners President and CEO John Harris stated, quoting Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success.” And whether it’s for our agencies, our clients, or our employees, we’re here for success.