J. Walter Thompson Worldwide
Report by Tamara Ingram
Chief executive officer, worldwide
As a 152-year-old agency, J. Walter Thompson has a rich legacy of pioneering that has shaped the industry and our clients’ brands. In 2016, we solidified the strategy that will empower us to continue delivering innovative, inventive, and memorable solutions for our client partners: We are hungry. We move fast. We move the dial on people, culture and commerce.
One of our biggest steps forward this past year is our investment in digital. We added Washington DC’s iStrategyLabs (ISL) and Turkey’s Wanda Digital to our roster. Alongside Mirum, which expanded its global footprint in the India and MEA markets, Wanda and ISL deepen our ability to create digital and physical experiences for our clients.
We had significant new business wins across our markets, including Air China, Newell, Nespresso, Danone, TJX, and Tudor. We were particularly proud of the evolution of our partnership with Lux. After working with Lux for 91 years, we became its global digital agency of record for the first time in our shared history.
2016 also marked a creative leap forward. Across the year’s awards circuit, we showed significant jumps in rankings. At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity we saw our best performance at the festival in our entire history, with 80 Lions. JWT Amsterdam was also named Cannes’ Innovation Agency of the Year, and JWT Latin America earned the premier title of Latin American Network of the Year.
We also had major recognition across other global shows, including D&AD, Clios, Goafest, and Spikes. Several of our creatives were recognized across Advertising Age’s Creativity 50, a list of the 50 most creative people of the year, and Business Insider’s 30 most creative people in advertising under 30. These creative milestones earned us the title of The Gunn Report’s Biggest Mover of 2016.
While our award wins set us apart from the competition, one of our biggest key differentiators is JWT Intelligence, our engine for culture and consumer insights. Last year alone, the team produced nine reports, surveyed over 150,000 consumers, and worked with 260 clients in 39 offices.
We also launched an extraordinary piece of innovation called Pangaea, an internal Artificial Intelligence designed and powered by Mirum and JWT, which allows us to ask questions and get answers from any one of the 12,000 people across our network. Pangaea leverages the diversity of our massive network. And, as I’ve said, the way we will create better thinking, better ideas, and more innovation is to have different people with different skills and backgrounds. This speaks to an important piece of our renewed energy.
Moving fast and forward is not just about being agile, efficient, and productive; it also means that we pioneer and push cultural and societal progress forward. In that vein, we’ve begun piloting multiple global diversity initiatives, including blind recruitment and unconscious bias training.
We partnered with consulting firm InQUEST to provide an independent review of our policies and practices, and we’ve also developed an internal network hotline. With the hotline, employees can essentially act as our diversity and initiative partners and can securely and anonymously share their thoughts or concerns about how we make JWT an even more inclusive workspace.
In line with these initiatives, we bolstered the presence of women in leadership roles and across our creative departments. Today, we have female CEOs leading key offices/countries: New York, Chicago and Canada, Buenos Aires, Beijing, Egypt, Portugal and Italy. And we have many women in other leadership roles: head of new business, London and New York; head of design, Mirum North America; head of planning, South Asia, Singapore; head of production, London; and our global chief creative talent officer.
In helping to shape a more diverse industry in the next generation of talent, we’ve also continued our Helen Lansdowne Resor Scholarship and our Jump/Start programs. Both are dedicated to mentoring and nurturing talent from a range of academic, professional and cultural backgrounds.
Our Female Tribes study, launched in early 2016, also continued to blossom with our offices in India, the Middle East & Africa, the Philippines and Vietnam, building market-specific studies dedicated to helping their clients’ brands unlock the capital of female consumers.
We are consistently and actively looking for new opportunities to invest in creating change, understanding and progress for our employees, our clients, and the industry.
I am incredibly proud of the hard work we’ve done in the past year. I am thrilled to see where this new momentum carries us.