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McCann UK was named as the Best Network at this year’s IPA Effectiveness Awards. We spoke to Mark Lund, CEO and Harjot Singh, Chief Strategy Officer about the significance of the win and how they achieved their effectiveness culture.

Mark Lund and Harjot Singh of Mccann Worldgroup UK

Creative awards tend to get a lot of the attention from agencies. Understandable when you consider that creativity is what sets the industry apart. But for Mark Lund, CEO at McCann Worldgroup UK, their recent win in the IPA Effectiveness Awards is the reward for a far broader drive to identify the value in their work entirely.

“Our delight at being named Network of the Year is immeasurable,” he says. “There is simply no bigger prize in the making-a-difference game. Creativity, though vital, is a means to an end. Once the industry has returned from the French Riviera – we turn to the fundamental question: how can we be indispensable to our clients?”

“Effectiveness is our ultimate goal and in the longer term, it’s what our clients will judge us on. It’s the final arbiter of how and whether we succeed.”

While recognising the value of a creative idea, Mark is clear that they should only be considered brilliant if they are effective. “Our job is to help our clients sell more product at a higher value,” he says. “To do that there must be real substance behind the creative idea. We must understand precisely what it is that prompts a consumer to make a certain decision, and then deliver that message in exactly the right way. We’re in the business of changing behaviour. Effectiveness is our ultimate goal, and in the longer term, it’s what our clients will judge us on. It’s the final arbiter of how and whether we succeed.”

How McCann did it

The win follows a three-year period of steadily embedding an effectiveness culture within McCann Worldgroup. They have sharpened their focus on what matters most; measurable commercial impact. They achieved this by changing the way they evaluate themselves with their clients. They also invested heavily in training to enable staff to identify and use the performance data they need.

Crucial to their success has been the roll-out of these initiatives amongst all employees. “Not only planners and strategists, but account people and creatives have drunk the effectiveness Kool-Aid,” says Mark. “Our mission of creating a meaningful role for brands provides a great platform to develop authentic business values. But it needs devotion to the gathering, valuing and understanding of the data amongst our entire team.”

The importance of shared responsibility for effectiveness

Harjot Singh, Chief Strategy Officer, McCann Worldgroup Europe is sure this shared accountability is the reason they have been so successful. “We’ve created a culture unified by the will to prove and command creative effectiveness,” he says. “One reason this permeates our fabric is that, the responsibility of proving the value of our creativity isn’t seen as the sole prerogative of the strategy team. As a leadership team, we are driving a pervasive effectiveness culture. One where the strategy team are the catalysts. Regardless of discipline, everyone is an advocate and a champion. Everyone is accountable. Everyone shares the dream, and everyone celebrates excellence.”

“We believe that effectiveness is the most measurable value of the creativity, intuition, instinct, and imagination of our teams”

“We evangelise seemingly obvious behaviours that are characteristic of a mindset motivated by solving rather than selling,” says Harjot. “Then we work hard at making these principles standard practice. When it’s time to start making work, we have changed the conversations we have with clients. Now all our discussions about the creative begin with the question, “What is the commercial objective we need our work to impact?”

McCann’s hard work has been paying off. Aside from the IPA Effectiveness Award, the network has seen success in other schemes including the Effie Effectiveness Index. They have been ranked the most effective agency network in Europe for three out of the last four years.

“We believe that effectiveness is the most measurable value of the creativity, intuition, instinct, and imagination of our teams across the network,” says Harjot. “It is the endpoint, and aim, of the artful orchestration they bring to bear as a means to compel people in the best commercial interest of our clients. At McCann effectiveness is everyone’s business.”

Related content:

WATCH: A panel of marketing and finance leaders at EffWeek 2018 debate (and sometimes clash over) the key challenges and opportunities of creating a marketing effectiveness culture
READ: How Direct Line create a culture of effectiveness
WATCH: Adam Ben-Youssef of Diageo describe how they put effectiveness first

“Just what the industry needs, great collaboration between clients and agencies on the topics that drive business growth.”

Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer at AMV BBDO

“It’s great to see the IPA in the UK bring the whole industry and particularly the trade bodies together to focus on effectiveness. This new Marketing Effectiveness initiative will enable people across the industry to work together to build on best practice.”

David Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer, RBS

“Effectiveness is a team sport, so it was great to see the industry in the widest sense, come together. In an increasingly diverse and fragmented world, only by using all parts of the brain will we solve effectiveness challenges and design our campaigns to deliver short and long term value. That’s why what happens next is important – if the IPA can help facilitate progress on this with a long-term initiative around Marketing Effectiveness, we’ll definitely crack it.”

Bart Michels, Global CEO Kantar Added Value and Country Leader Kantar UK

“The time spent at #EffWeek was extraordinarily effective. It was great to hear the diverse views from all areas of the industry. All tied together with the common themes of accountability and effectiveness.”

Andrew Canter, Global CEO, BCMA

“It has been a privilege to be part of the inaugural Effectiveness Week. The agenda is one which we at O2 UK feel passionately about. To see and hear perspectives across the industry demonstrates how the breadth of marketing effectiveness is increasingly being valued within businesses. Data, insight, social, customer experience, test and learn, ROI, these are all fundamentals and were covered expansively at the event”.

Sandra Fazackerley, Marketing & Consumer, Telefónica UK Limited

“The full week of effectiveness events brought into clear focus the need for marketers to use data and insight to achieve the key business objectives of growth and profits. Marketers today are in a better position to quantify their knowledge of customers and measure the ability of investments in marketing to increase brand and shareholder value.”

Chris Combemale, Group CEO, DMA