The conversation

Business transformation? You've been doing it for years

Agencies have always helped transform business - it's just what they do

By Jeremy Lee

Welcome to a bumper newsletter this Cannes week, where we celebrate some of the best UK work that's been entered into the Cannes Lions this year, talk to Michael Flatt, the man who helped steer Microsoft to it being named Creative Marketer of the Year at last year's festival, and showcase why Anheuser Busch InBev has won that accolade this year. And much more besides.

We also spoke to the chief executives of the five big holding companies - Arthur Sadoun, Yannick Bolloré, Philippe Krakowsky, Mark Read and John Wren - about how they are reframing their businesses to help their clients through this period of continued change.

Change is on the agenda. We all know that inflationary pressures and global instability are driving up costs and driving down consumers' spending power. We also know that technology and culture are colliding in new and exciting ways that mean that people's media consumption habits are changing (plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, as they say in the south of France). And it's probably why the Cannes Lions organisers have named "Business Transformation" as one of its seven key themes for next week's Festival, albeit erroneously in our view.

In truth, and despite the current heightened headwinds, business transformation has always been top of the agenda for advertising practitioners - it's what they exist to do for their clients. And it's why the holding companies' CEOs are rewarded so handsomely for leading this change, both internally and externally. If they weren't embracing change then the chances are shareholders would not be forgiving (and fortunately for them, as our feature below makes clear, they are).

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said that "change is the only constant in life". How we adapt to it and seize upon the opportunities that it offers us, and our clients, is up to us. And if you need a few sweaty panel sessions in the Palais to work that one out, then you're probably in the wrong business.


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