Mechanisms that Matter – Inside our partnership with Audible

How do you take a huge client like Audible from 22 agencies to one thriving networked team?

With universal tools and training, of course, but also a large measure of motivation and a culture created for and by all. Jonathan Adams (JA), Executive Director at Wavemaker and Global Client Lead for OneAudible, talks team-building with Anna Hickey (AH), WPP Global Client Lead, Wavemaker Global Client President.

AH: You've helped to build an amazing team of over 350 people for Audible. Tell us about the team you've set up, and how it's changed since you won the business two years ago? 

JA: The business is across 10 marketplaces today, with three hub teams and one global team. As you said, it’s over 350 people between investment, planning, strategy, and everything in between. The business started off very locally-focused, where a lot of our energy and a lot of our teams were following the lead of the local marketplaces, because they had all had their own agency. We went from 22 agencies to one in this process, and so we wanted to respect that the local markets still need their point of view to be heard. And so that was really important. And today, an evolution in the year and a half since we've run the business, it's much more a combination of hearing and letting the local markets still have a voice, but it's much more controlled and tempered with what the global team needs to happen as well.

AH: This series, Mechanisms that Matter, is all about the expert engineering and the mechanisms that are required to build that world class model with our clients. Now, you've talked about creating new traditions, which is a phrase I really love to describe how you embed new processes by doing things repetitively. Please tell me a bit more about that and how you make that happen? 

JA: It's one thing to build a team across so many marketplaces. You have to give them the tools to do what they do. You have to give them the capabilities to do it and the training to do what they do. But it's entirely different to motivate them and make them feel and behave and think and come to work every day like one team, even in different marketplaces.

Getting on the same wavelength: Five principles that underscore WPP’s supersonic partnership with Audible

So, you know, the four Ps, of course, from marketing; product, price, place, and promotion. We created the four Ps and I confess it's really five Ps, for Audible, designed to give us something to think about, something that brings us together. 


The first P is purpose. When you define what you want to do, you have a much better chance of achieving it. This goes down to every market, every country, and every team, helping them understand that if you start to develop a plan for the year ahead, you have a much better likelihood of actually achieving it, both locally and globally.


Ideas win business, and mistakes lose them. Become the master of the mundane. I tell everybody that I work with to create process captains and process second captains so that every key process we do has a way of being double-checked if someone's on holiday, we have backups. Process is critical. It is honestly very, very sexy and it is part of who we are.


At Wavemaker, we are all about Positive Provocation as a company. It's in our DNA. But how do you do that? You have to earn the client's trust. You have to master the client's business so that they know that you are absolutely qualified to push them and provoke them into places that are uncomfortable, ideally uncomfortable, to get things done together that are big and bold.


Partnership is about lifting each other up, lifting each team and each country up, and stealing with pride from each other and from other accounts. How do you create that ‘never-been-done’ magic? A lot of things have been done! And you can steal, and you can create something very special when you have a foundation of other great things we've done.


And then finally, positivity, because we love working on this business. It is very exciting. And the truth is, when you come to work every day thrilled with what you do, people can't wait to work with you. And so it's part of our story.

Anna Hickey

WPP, Wavemaker

published on

23 April 2024



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