UM's 'balancing act' for 2019

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 12 February 2019

UM CEO Fiona Johnston has outlined her plan for the agency in 2019, stating there will be a focus on balancing work between "simplifying changing media” and "delivering on its wins" of 2018.

Speaking exclusively to AdNews, Johnston, whose agency spent last year notching up big business wins including the $150 million master media account for the Australian Government, as well as Nestlé ($50m), AGL ($23m) and American Express, said it was time to focus internally on how it would deliver for those clients.

She said it was about striking the right mix within the agency as it deals with the intensified work load that accompanies working on some of Australia's top billing accounts.

"This is not just about going off and getting wins. This is about getting brilliant pieces of business and great partners that we can do great work with," Johnston said.

"Even though there was lots of opportunity last year, we're still focused on how we can improve on that for current and new clients. This year, even more so we want to work with the right people and the right clients, and we are going to be clear on what that looks like."

See: UM CEO urges agencies to hold onto 'pride and purpose'

Johnston said while 2019 is about making sure the agency delivers for those clients it on-boarded during the second half of last year, it's also honing in on the internal promises it made to its staff who were "crucial" to those wins.

She said the agency needed to maintain the work ethic and internal culture it had developed after scaling its total staff throughout the year to meet the increased client demand.

UM's second focus is on “demystifying” the increasing complexities the media landscape is facing, to enable easier decisions for its clients.

A key reason for this is in part due to the growing pace in which new media is being bought and planned. Johnston said the reactive response of the industry was making it difficult to deliver effective marketing solutions.

"We set out a three year plan at the end of 2017 which we're tracking pretty well on, but what I'd really like us to do is simplify what we do without dumbing it down," Johnston said.

"It's really hard to do, due to the nature of our business and some people want to oversimplify it when they don't understand it."

Johnston said when taking something like dynamic and digital media, which can be complicated due its frequently changing nature, agency's need to take responsibility for insuring that clients have a reasonable level of understanding of every facet of its strategy.

"As a marketing industry we can often be so reactive to digital and dynamic spaces at the expense of longer term thinking, but even long-termism isn't what it used to be, so three or five year plans in marketing may be considered 'redundant', but there still is an opportunity to think about a two year or a three year ambition as a brand," Johnston said.

Previously, AdNews spoke with Johnston about the importance of her agency not "resting on its laurels". See here.

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