Perspectives - A crisis demands agility and strong leadership

By Jens Monsees | 8 December 2020
Jens Monsees

This first appeared in the AdNews Annual 2020. Subscribe here to make sure you get your copy.

AdNews asked industry leaders their perspective on the year that was and the prospects for the road ahead:

Jens Monsees, CEO, WPP AUNZ

If there is one word that sums up 2020, it’s extraordinary. Extraordinary times, extraordinary events and extraordinary circumstances. However, ordinary is never something to aspire to, and I really think that 2020’s events have also led to some extraordinary achievements and opportunities.

One thing we do know is that a crisis demands agility and strong leadership, with the confidence to operate under uncertainty.
The challenge for brands of driving sales, growing market share and simply surviving in a pandemic era, where the only constant thing is change, is relentless.

However, experiencing a decade of digital transformation in a few months through the events of 2020 has offered huge opportunities to rethink, reconnect and reprioritise. Smart marketers and business are always looking to the future. 2020 has allowed a rethinking within many organisations, offering a new cleaner and more simplistic view of their go-to market strategy.

These are opportunities that point to a way of not only surviving but resetting, which in turn offers businesses such as ours the legitimacy to become true partners through data-first solutions and strategies.

Back in February, during a post-flood, post-bushfire world where we were just hearing the first reports of a strangely contagious virus, I delivered our future-focused strategic trajectory for WPP AUNZ. My vision was to balance the magic of our brands, with a new and focused direction that put our clients at the heart of everything we aim to achieve. 

And how has this played out across the backdrop of constant change? Well, I would not be talking too strongly if I said that so far it has been extraordinary. Despite asking our teams to take an amazing self-sacrifice with pay cuts and reduced hours across the business, the new direction has been embraced wholeheartedly. I cannot reiterate enough how proud I am of the entire WPP AUNZ for their brave, collaborative and strong response. 

We have developed subject matter and client leads that sit across all of our brands, become even more focused upon collaboration and streamlined the way we work. Activating our client-first approach and a new lean and simplistic go to market approach has meant we are profitable year on year. And the campus model we introduced has already paid dividends with NZ particularly creating huge value in a short time. 

So how do we continue this trajectory for 20102? To paraphrase something we are all familiar with, unnormal will continue to be the new normal and is something we should embrace. 

With uncertainty certainly comes opportunity, and our role becomes one of consultative thought leaders. Harnessing the huge and largely untapped power of data and technology to power our creativity, will ultimately help our clients predict and map their next moves with an agility and certainty that adds real value. 

We are lucky to live in an extraordinary country, full of extraordinarily talented individuals across all areas of life. While the repercussions of 2020 will, of course, be felt across all areas of our economic, cultural and personal outlook for 2021, I feel there is another way. 

I’d like to see our industry focus on banding together to deliver the unexpected and creative solutions for our clients that will help their businesses grow, and ultimately help us all back on the road to an extraordinarily brighter future. Let’s embrace extraordinary, because, put frankly, nobody wants ordinary. We can do better. 

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