Waypointers is the go-to podcast for agency leaders. In this series, produced by Waypoint Partners, we bring together the brightest minds in the industry and our own in-house growth advisory specialists to share illuminating conversations to grow your agency.
Bringing you insights, analysis and knowledge from the leading lights of the UK agency landscape, Waypointers is a must-listen for aspirational agency leaders.
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Waypoint Partners is an expert global growth and M&A advisory firm providing support to businesses in the marketing services and technology sectors.
STRAT7 - An agency at the forefront of AI – in conversation with Barrie Brien Group CEO and Paul Jackson, Managing Director of STRAT7 Bonamy Finch, and Founding Partner of STRAT7
As a sector, market research has been experimenting with machine learning and predictive algorithms earlier than many other parts of the marketing services industry; the same is true of AI. Research group STRAT7 has been building expertise in AI well ahead of ChatGPT and generative AI becoming mainstream.
This AI themed episode of Waypointers sees STRAT7 leaders Barrie Brien and Paul Jackson in conversation with Waypoint’s tech editor Martin Ward explaining their approach to harnessing AI for competitive advantage.
They talk about investing in and creating what is effectively an AI centre of excellence at the heart of STRAT7 that can be accessed through every agency in the business. This working group of consultants, data scientists, engineers, modellers and other specialists collaborates to build the best possible products and services to drive value for clients
Some of the agencies Waypoint has spoken to as part of the Waypointers AI series have encouraged their stuff to experiment with public tools such as ChatGPT. STRAT7 has taken a very different approach and has built its own AI tool, strat7GPT. Paul and Barrie talk about the balance they struck between speeding up strategic delivery to STRAT7 clients while ensuring this is always done within a secure environment that supports confidentiality agreements and allows the agency to maintain control of client data to remove any risk of it leaking into the public domain.
To hear more about the strategic decision making involved in building AI into the heart of a business and how to bring people and clients along the way, tune into this fascinating episode of Waypointers.
28. Becoming the European management consultancy for integrated communications - in conversation with Lansons/Team Farner CEO Gordon Tempest-Hay
2023 was a busy year for M&A in the PR/comms industry. One of the most significant of these deals was announced in October when Lansons was acquired by Team Farner.
This episode of Waypointers sees Gordon Tempest-Hay, the CEO of Lansons telling Waypoint partner Jim Houghton the story behind the deal headlines and his and Farner’s ambitions – “to become the European management consultancy for integrated communications”. Farner might not be a well-known entity in the UK, but that’s about to change.
We also hear about Gordon’s rather circuitous route into the comms industry by way of spending almost ten years trying to make it as a rock star (hint, he came very close!)
Once in the industry, from working in-house at the DWP, Gordon moved agency side, taking up roles at some of its most notable businesses – Fishburn Hedges, Blue Rubicon, Teneo/Blue Rubicon and from 2022, Lansons.
At BR/Teneo, and then again when Lansons became part of Waterland backed Farner, he’s had plenty of experience working with private equity investors. He talks positively about the value they bring to a partnership and the support they have provided him in good times as well as bad.
27. Where next for AI? In conversation with futurist Nell Watson: tech ethicist, researcher and reformer
To mark the start of 2024 this episode of Waypointers looks to the future, specifically the future of AI and tech more broadly, covering business, society and beyond.
Our guest is the inspirational Nell Watson, one of the most compelling global voices discussing the direction of travel for AI and tech.
Nell is a tech ethicist, researcher and reformer, “a trailblazer in emerging technologies such as machine vision and A.I. ethics.” She is president of the European Responsible AI Office and AI Expert at Singularity University. She also pioneers global standards as an AI Ethics Certification Maestro at IEEE. She advises leading organisations on their machine learning strategies, specialising in AI research and ethical advocacy.
Her conversation with Waypoint’s tech lead and partner, Martin Ward, is a wide ranging one that has something for everyone. Together they cover the importance of smart leadership in an increasingly AI driven world; how malign actors may look to harness AI and what society can do to protect itself; how AI will increasingly manifest in our day to day – e.g. domestic robots, AI girlfriends/boyfriends/companions and how breathtaking developments in AI will force us to question what it means to be human…..and much, much more!
26. A masterclass in putting purpose at the heart of an agency offer, with Jason Foo
In this episode of Waypointers our guest is Jason Foo, the CEO of independent agency, BBD Perfect Storm, a brand and cultural transformation company, helping clients transform themselves and their categories for increased growth and positive societal impact.
The conversation with Waypoint partner Jim Houghton is a fascinating one, covering purpose, culture, leadership, AI/automation and much more.
Jason talks about the journey he and his team went on to become a B Corp business and why it was such an important goal for them.
He discusses the agency’s bravery in setting up a specialist division, New Macho, focused on helping brands grow through a new positive male narrative, just as the #MeToo movement was at its loudest.
Smart, compassionate leadership and clarity of vision are hallmarks of Jason’s MO. Listen for more on what makes this influential independent agency special.
25. AI and the creative process – a conversation with Peter Gasston, innovation lead at VCCP and innovation director at its AI agency, Faith.
Leading agency VCCP created headlines earlier in the year when it launched AI agency, Faith, with Sage as a founding client.
In this episode of Waypointers, Faith’s innovation director Peter Gasston explains why VCCP took the decision to make this major investment in technology and what the journey has been like so far.
Interestingly Peter explains that the impetus was largely led by the creative department within VCCP who were increasingly experimenting with generative AI tools of their own accord. Rather than seeing these tools as a threat, they saw that they could deliver efficiencies, doing some of the work that no one really wants to do, so that people can focus on creative activities that need a human at the heart.
One of Peter’s key learnings is that unless you’re there in the thick of it, trying things out in real life, you’re never going to understand the full capabilities of the tools that are currently available. Peter brings this to life with some great examples – did you know that AI image generator Midjourney cannot come up with an image of two middle-aged European men kissing each other on the cheek – a very standard greeting? Nor did Peter and his team until they tried.
And it’s not just about efficiencies, Peter also explains how AI can stimulate creative thinking, driving creative people to be even more creative.
In a world that’s moving as fast as generative AI, nothing is set in stone and planning cycles are 90 days at most. Something that’s true today might be redundant in a month’s time. That’s why this conversation is so deeply engaging – the journey Peter and his team have embarked on is like nothing they’ve ever experience before in their careers.
Click on the link below to listen to this fascinating conversation between Peter and Waypoint’s tech lead and partner, Martin Ward.
24. Challenger Agencies - MSQ – a next generation creative and tech group with ambitious scale up plans
Peter Reid, the CEO of MSQ Partners is the next guest in our Challenger agency series.
A former McKinsey consultant, Peter has taken MSQ on quite a journey. He joined in 2007 to turn around a business that at the time was known as Media Square and that came with significant financial challenges.
After several years of streamlining, in 2010 Peter became CEO and in 2011 took the business private which he describes as a key way to establish a sustainable financial structure and to drive a transformational agenda.
Today MSQ is a highly profitable operation with 1250 people across 13 offices, recently becoming a B Corp and the first international group in the sector to achieve carbon negative status. Peter’s top priority is scale in the US – 10-fold in the next few years - and to triple size of the business over the same period via a mix of M&A and organic growth.
Waypoint partner Jim Houghton talks to Peter about many things, including:
How his McKinsey background equipped him to deal with the issues he faced when he joined Media Square – looking at the agency model through a different lensHow the MSQ business model now works MSQ’s tech offer and how it gives the group a competitive advantageHis growth ambitions