#AOTYAwards spills: Kadence gets a gold star for its consultancy pivot

Taking home the gold for consultants of the year was Kadence International. The team at Kadence saw a lot of clients turning to the agency to seek guidance in this unprecedented era.

In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Philip Steggals, managing director and global head of research and strategy of Kadence International said clients were largely looking for guidance and confidence to understand what could be achieved, and what types of findings could be established. Beyond this, budgets were scrutinised throughout and the agency spent much of its time workshopping ideas with clients even before it conducted any research.

“Our clients are looking for us to provide new ideas for them, so making sure we facilitated greater alignment internally allowed us to stretch budgets even further. Throughout the pandemic we've had much more open, intimate conversations with clients and we've found they really appreciate our honesty and pragmatic approach to providing guidance on where to go next with marketing in such a unique situation,” he added.

More on the interview here.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series. To find out more about the awards, click here.

What are some of the expectations your clients have for your agency?

Steggals: Throughout the year, we've found that our clients were looking for our viewpoints, and some advice. As the year has been so unprecedented, we had a number of clients trying out some new digital methodologies that they were perhaps less likely to try in "normal years". Clients were looking for guidance and confidence to understand what could be achieved, and what types of findings could be established. Beyond this, budgets were obviously scrutinised throughout and we spent much of our time workshopping ideas with clients even before we conducted any research. Our clients are looking for us to provide new ideas for them, so making sure we facilitated greater alignment internally allowed us to stretch budgets even further. Throughout the pandemic we've had much more open, intimate conversations with clients and we've found they really appreciate our honesty and pragmatic approach to providing guidance on where to go next with marketing in such a unique situation.

How has your clients marketing plans shifted this year?

Steggals: There were two distinct but noticeable shifts for many this year. The first, was looking to truly understand consumer sentiment. Halfway through the year, Kadence produced a proprietary study called "Brand Exposed" which showed that much of the existing traditional metrics and norms for consumers had to be revisited. Understanding the level of economic worry that individuals have and where brands can provide guidance for uncertain times meant that some brands needed to re-look at their campaigns. In parallel to this, clients are looking to new areas and markets. [Questions such as] where they can stretch their brand, what can compliment their portfolio and how do they maximise consumer sentiment have helped brands stay relevant throughout the second half of the year.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on postpandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Steggals: The economic turmoil of COVID-19 has made consumers more conscious than ever of the impact of their purchase power. In light of this, we see a big trend towards supporting local brands, which we expect to be significant in 2021. We're embracing this ethos ourselves. This year, we have been working with three of the top 10 startups in Singapore to ensure we support not only existing clients but also newcomers who are facing an even more uncertain future in 2020.

We also have seen raised awareness of global supply chains. I think people are more conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases and I think we'll see the implications of this increasing. Both of these trends are summed up on our latest thought piece on future trends for 2021.

For us at Kadence, this means that we are going to be working even closer with our colleagues across the region. The local context, nuances and subtleties are vital in understanding how marketing campaigns can land with consumers. However, many brands are still being led at regional levels. Identifying broad, strategic themes and having the local capabilities to translate this into an actionable marketing plan is where we are putting our focus on. In addition, we expect that there is going to be an ongoing reliance on digital qualitative methods being blended with face-to-face research. This can often require more manpower to go through the increased volume of potential findings, so Kadence is looking to add to our team at the start of 2021.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Steggals: Brands are having to re-evaluate their role in society. What made a great ad in 2019, is not necessarily the same now. Brands need to be able to showcase how they make a difference; to show a true understanding of the times that we live in and tap into real emotions. Brands that are able to do this, and stay authentic to their brand purpose, will be well-rewarded by their customers. The Google ‘Thanking Healthcare Workers’ ad is perhaps one of the best examples of this throughout 2020. There is also an increasing role that technology can play. The recent Cadburys ad in India is a great case study on the use of technology to land a great, purposeful and positive message locally targeted.

How are you planning for 2021?

Steggals: First and foremost, we are having conversations with clients to understand their challenges for the new year, and see how we can help. We understand that budgets will continue to be limited so we are embarking on a structured training programme with many of our clients, so that they can make the most of their investment. Helping clients to audit their past work and designing bespoke training courses so that they can get better at taking on certain elements of small scale projects will help as well. In addition, we are speaking to a number of tech startups and tech providers about utilising a variety of new tools and innovations to help us focus on the stories and conversations that consumers have to tell.

Related Articles:
#AOTYAwards spills: AKIN gives us a sneak peek into its ambitious 2021 goals
#AOTYAwards spills: How OC Digital's search for creativity landed the gold
#AOTYAwards spills: 3 times Overall Agency of the Year TBWA\’s secret sauce
TBWA\ Singapore wins big with third consecutive overall Agency of the Year