DDB’s Wendy Clark on managing the future whilst inventing the present | M&M Global

DDB’s Wendy Clark on managing the future whilst inventing the present

On Tuesday 22 June, DDB Worldwide chief executive officer Wendy Clark took to the stage at the Lumière Theatre at Cannes Lions to draw on her considerable client-side and agency leadership experience to highlight how marketers and agencies can best work together to unlock the full potential of their creative partnerships.


As a client, Clark was told she could have work good, fast or cheap –it was possible, she was told, to have two of the three, but not all three. However, the reality now is different.

“Accept with me that the world has changed,” she said. “We have to fundamentally ask ourselves why the agency model has been so slow to change with it.”

There is no substitute for great work – good work makes people react and feel something. However, Clark says that the market has expanded, and we have too many clients and too many agencies who have simply and quite mindlessly pursued the goal of ‘more’.

“’More’ cannot be a strategy,” she said. “The goal for all of us is ‘more good’, not just ‘more’.”

Clark also talked about the importance of addressing how companies are working to recruit and retain people. “We have to be as dynamic as the marketplace,” she added.

“Lots has been written in the industry trade publications about the industry model being broken – is it broken or what is the goal we’re trying to achieve?”

Clark believes the good news is that the agency model hasn’t been broken, but that agencies need to disrupt themselves.

“Somewhere along the line, efficiency became a dirty word,” she said. “Agencies have been slow to respond to the call for efficiency, so clients did what clients do, went into their own businesses,” she added, commenting on the strange bedfellows of agency and procurement departments, thrown together in a drive for efficiency.

“Clients are creating patchwork solutions to solve their agency needs. It’s neither efficient nor fast, this model is about to break under the pressure of itself. We have to help them with better solutions.”

Clark said that how agencies work is equally important to what they make. “For too long, bad behaviour has been tolerated if it comes with good talent,” she added. “We will not rest until we are as diverse and inclusive as the marketplace we serve.”

Clark’s top tips were to do great work, evolve everything from people and processes to product, find the efficiencies that are there and value ‘whats’ and ‘hows’ equally.

She left with the final thought that the industry should be creative, courageous and together.

“The greats in our industry, and there are many, have referenced our humanity as a strength,” she said. “At DDB, we believe that we are better together.”

Anna Dobbie


No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply