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The Showcase 2022

Unleashing the power of Creative, Data and Tech: Wunderman Thompson's 2022

From new business wins to credit in Cannes, it's been a strong year for CEO Pip Hulbert and her team

By Creative Salon

Bringing creative, data and tech together - that is the mantra of Wunderman Thompson. And in 2022 the agency fully demonstrated the power of that coalition.

From its work for HSBC (from helping homeless people off the streets to helping consumers avoid financial scams), to winning a very broad mix of new clients this year including including Fanta, first direct, Costa Coffee, Kelloggs and KitKat to scooping a D&I project for Essity -- the year has been about reframing clients’ business challenges for the agency. Led by CEO Pip Hulbert, CCO Steve Aldridge and CSO Sid McGrath, the agency has showcased its capability to deliver across disciplines, end-to-end, embracing brand advertising, CRM, CX and experiential.

We asked Pip for her perspective on Wunderman Thompson's year and, below, Creative Salon gives its take on the last twelve months for the agency.

Pip Hulbert, CEO Wunderman Thompson, on her agency's year

What three words would you use to describe 2022?

Non-stop, Connected, Inspiring

Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year?

Fusing creative, data and technology to drive brilliant work for brilliant brands, from live billboards for HSBC, to bringing emotion into B2B advertising and testing the latest tech on TikTok.

We’ve welcomed a whole host of new wins to the Wunderman Thompson family, including Fanta, Costa Coffee, Kelloggs, Samsung, KitKat, first direct and All leading to us being named Campaign’s Agency of the Year for the fifth year running, and as a Best of British business by The Independent.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

The work we’ve launched for HSBC. In a world-first, we’ve helped them to use AI to unmask the ‘faces of fraud’ and help consumers avoid scams and learn the tricks of the trade. We’ve jumped on the success of the Homeless Bank Account campaign, which helped get over 100 people off the streets, to launch HSBC’s second purpose-driven campaign, ‘Safe Spaces’ - translating a single message in different ways across customer touchpoints to drive awareness and offer victims a ‘safe space’ in branch to take their first steps towards independence.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

With an ever more complex landscape of audience and channels there are challenges everywhere! This year we launched our own Wunderman Thompson metaverse and were the first agency to hold a client event in a new digital space. Now we’re helping clients to find their own place within it. It’s an unknown space and (quite literally) a whole new world to figure out how this evolves and ultimately how we support how brands show up in this space. We’re chuffed to be Adidas’s rostered agency for Metaverse campaigns.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

I’m looking forward to seeing how consumer habits change, and how creative we can get when we flex to those new behaviours. In a year when we’ve gone from pseudo-lockdown to economic fear, with everything in between, it’s more important than ever to understand where people are and what they’re talking about – it’s the only way we’ll ever be able to own conversation. Brands are starting to notice that what works for TV doesn’t work on TikTok, and they’re looking to agencies to help them work smarter, not harder, across different channels. 2023 might be a tricky time, but it’s also a big opportunity for creativity to shine.

Creative Salon on Wunderman Thompson's 2022

Three and a half years after she was tasked with leading the merged JWT and Wunderman Pip Hulbert has been shepherding a team that has been trying to be future facing while reinterpreting integration, ingrained in an understanding of their clients' business and consumers.

In that spirit, this year the agency launched itself in the metaverse and held a client event - the first agency to do so. It's now on Adidas' roster for all its metaverse campaigns.

Earlier this year, the agency saw the departure of BT & EE's CRM account to Digitas. But Wunderman Thompson's appointment to the Essity roster also brought with it the health and hygiene company's global ecommerce and UX design business, underlining the agency's power of great integrated thinking.

Other notable wins this year included Costa Coffee, which appointed Wunderman Thompson as its global agency of record for brand strategy and integrated creative in the UK. Edrington, which owns spirit brands The Macallan, Famous Grouse and Courvoisier, appointed Wunderman Thompson as its international digital partner following a competitive pitch. The agency also held on to Samsung Europe's CRM account through a competitive statutory review, a testament to the strong relationship with the client since 2017. The agency is now helping Samsung to build a connected customer experience grounded in data and will launch projects across Samsung's first party data as the industry prepares for a cookieless future.  

It was a strong year on the awards front too. The agency had developed an accessible deodorant for Unilever, designed for people with visual impairment and upper extremity impairment, and the work was awarded the Innovation Grand Prix at Cannes Lions. Wunderman Thompson also developed Tommy Adaptive for Tommy Hilfiger, accessible clothing for adults and children with disabilities. The clothing line went on to win four Cannes Lions.

Meanwhile Wunderman Thompson's work for its most high-profile client, HSBC, continued to get noticed. Most recently, the agency worked together with Carnegie Mellon University to create a global fraud prevention campaign to educate the public about the tactics fraudsters use to scam them.  

Meanwhile, Pip has been busy future-proofing the business that builds not just brands and companies but economies. The launch of Wunderman Thompson’s women’s network, Rise, and Magpie, a mentoring app aimed at connecting women in the agency, added to the agency's culture. Always pragmatic and progressive, this is a focus that Pip knows is table-stakes for every good employer but is also business critical for forward-thinking companies.

Most recently, Pip strengthened her leadership team with the appointment of Lizzie Snell as managing director and Jim Dyer as head of client leadership. Snell was previously client partnership director at Valtech, and Dyer was previously managing director of Pulse Creative London. As one of London's largest agencies, Wunderman Thompson now has a management team that looks in great shape to tackle the challenges ahead.

Creative Salon Says: It's always a challenge to properly represent the work of an agency with the breadth, depth and sheer scale of Wunderman Thompson. But the new business growth and awards tally speak for themselves. Pip Hulbert, too, has emerged as a clear-eyed, focussed leader at a time when such leadership skills are not a given in some agencies. But anyone who knows Pip, her team and their ambitions for the agency will know that they will be restless for bigger and better things in 2023.


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