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Little Black Book: 11 Things Learned About Reconnection at the Worldwide Partners Montreal Global Summit

by | May 5, 2023

Montreal Global Summit group photo.

Originally posted on Little Black Book on May 5, 2023.




Independent agency network Worldwide Partners shares key insights from their Re:Connect Global Summit which took place in Montreal, Canada last month


Worldwide Partners are still riding a high from its 2023 Spring Global Summit, which took place in Montreal, Canada last month. The event’s theme was Re:Connect, and we had several guest speakers and independent agency partners share insight on the ‘trust economy’ where return on connection is the new KPI.

Below are 11 things Worldwide Partners learned during the three-day event about connecting and reconnecting with consumers, clients, talent, and other agencies:

1. Emotion Separates Good Brands from Great Brands

Good brands ask “How do we want people to feel about our brand?” The best brands also ask “How do we want people to feel about themselves?” Nike’s Former CMO and VP of global innovation Greg Hoffman shared the importance of establishing emotional connections with consumers by helping them achieve their aspirations and dreams.

2. Impact Over Income

When it comes to identifying creative that is going to reach and engage audiences, it’s important not to overcomplicate the process at the expense of the commercial message. According to Maximum Effort’s John Deschner, “too much time and too much money ruin everything.” John shared their approach to creativity, which includes staying ‘weird, fast and famous’ and ultimately focusing on the impact that creative will have, not the income it can drive.

3. Flexibility Is the Only Path Forward

The Great Resignation that began in 2021 in the wake of the pandemic has turned into a full-on Talent Revolution. Primary caregivers, underrepresented marketers and remote workers are leading this reform, and demanding new ways of working that don’t fit the standard in-office, 9-to-5 construct. We Are Rosie’s Kate Galecki shared a flexible model for connecting with talent that allows them to be energised by working how they want or need to and engaged by working on projects that light them up. This ‘Layer Cake Workforce’ structures teams based on the work that needs to get done with FTEs as the foundation and flexible skills-based resources mapped to the annual strategy.

4. Powered by Partnership, Designed for Growth

Agency talent aren’t the only ones demanding new ways of working that buck the standards. Brands and agencies are also looking for new ways to work together to drive growth. Brands want to handpick marketing expertise by geography, industry vertical, and capability to address precise business situations and challenges. And independent agencies are looking to scale their geographic reach, capabilities and knowledge base. Worldwide Partners President and CEO John Harris shared insights and examples of how the network fills the essential gaps for both brands and agencies through our global and diversified independent network that is built for collaboration and impact. With a 215% increase in pitch wins from our agencies and 333% increase in partner collaborations, we’re clearly on to something.

5. Environment is Everything 

Visiting LG2’s gorgeous newly-built office during the Opening Reception has us rethinking the perks of working remotely! It may not bring everyone back to the office, but it can certainly be the icing on that Layer Cake!

6. Special Treatment Is a Good Thing

Whether it’s taking a hands-on approach to customer service, finding the right message to reach a specific audience, or providing attentive support for your employees, special treatment is always a good thing for establishing true, deep connections. Cossette’s Chris Bergon shared her personal journey of coming out as transgender after leading the life of a straight male leader for 40 years, and the numerous ways that special treatment allowed her to be stronger, more resilient and more creative.

7. AI will Bring us Together, Not Tear us Apart

The advertising world is in a tizzy about AI. Some are terrified that it will make our people obsolete because it’s fast, cheap and easy. Others see the potential that AI can provide in freeing up our people from mundane tasks, allowing their true creativity to shine through. Addition’s Aaron Paul is in that second camp, and he shared examples and insights into how AI will allow us to work, collaborate and solve differently for our agencies and our clients.

8. Credibility + Character = Trust 

The Trust Economy is alive in the relationships between brands and consumers. It’s also alive in the relationships between brands and agencies. Creative Haystack’s Pete Carter offered numerous insights and tips on what clients are looking for from agencies. This equation for finding trust is at the heart of every client-agency interaction, from the initial pitch process to strategic planning to campaign optimisation.

9. Trust Takes Time

Trapeze acts are the ultimate in partner trust. You have to communicate without words, be completely in sync, and anticipate any unexpected changes, together. That takes lots of hours of rehearsal to get it right. We were treated to an example of this at the Perfect Partner and Impact Awards ceremony on the final night of Re:Connect.

10. Don’t Wait to Be Shown the Connection

Agencies typically operate by waiting for a client to come along and hire them for the skills their firm possesses. But this isn’t the only way that agencies can establish connections with consumers (and drive revenue). Win Without Pitching’s Blair Enns challenged us to think about launching our own products or services rather than only promoting our clients’ products or services, thus reducing risk, creating a culture of innovation, and attracting more clients and talent.

11. Six Degrees of WPI Partners 

You can always count on finding a close connection with other WPI partners – whether professional or personal – in six degrees but often times fewer. For example, I discovered that FUSE Health’s Stephanie Frisina’s uncle paved the driveway of my childhood home in Pennsylvania!

The return on connection at our Global Summits gets stronger each year, and at Re:Connect, the largest Summit in all of our 85 years as a network of independent agencies, it was certainly at a historical high. That’s because our network is Powered by Partnership and Designed for Growth.