Jon Forsyth, the first of the original four partners at adam&eveDDB to leave the agency after the earnout period, has returned to the industry as strategic partner at a new communications network, Troika/Mission Group.
Forsyth joins TMG at its inception: Los Angeles-based Troika Media Group, an integrated agency that works mainly in sports and entertainment, has acquired Mission, whose London and New York offices focus on brand experience and marketing strategy. Together they have formed Troika/Mission Group, which is in the process of being listed in the US.
The new group is looking to make acquisitions from the start. Forsyth’s role will include growing the business in the US and the UK, as well as working with clients on strategy.
Forsyth says: “”Success in this industry is about bringing together the very best people with an exciting and ambitious mission. I am therefore enormously excited to join a team of the most influential and connected people I have met, to create a new, gold standard service for clients who want their agency to be agile, highly creative and accountable across all their markets and channels.”
Troika was built on the back of the success of FandomConnect, which provides wifi at many of the biggest arenas and sports venues in the US. This tech background, and the customer data it has acquired from providing the wifi service, have got to be one of the new group’s secret weapons.
There are some great clients in there too. Troika works with Apple, AT&T, Comcast, CNN, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, and Sony, while Mission’s brand partners include as Amazon, LVMH, Unilever, Tiffany, Microsoft, Sony, and Victoria’s Secret.
Nicola Stephenson, the founder of Mission, is based in New York and will join the board of TMG as president of the new group. She says: “Modern clients understand that culturally connected, personality-led, one-to-one brand and product efforts are the best way to gain fan love and motivate sales. TMG has taken its brand, culture, and advertising credentials, coupled with expertise in design, creating experiences, public relations and digital communications, to build a fast, agile and accountable business model.”
Mission’s real-world events live up to Stephenson’s hype: late last year they put on an immersive evening on the theme of the seven deadly sins for LVMH’s Veuve Clicquot, including installations curated by former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, with help from high-powered friends like fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford.
There was free champagne of course, and if you were feeling sinful you were invited to throw your glass into a deep pit and watch it smash, before making your way through a series of rooms over four floors, each dedicated to one of the sins. Everything from latex to rotting food and celebrity encounters made the whole experience decadent and memorable.
In New York, Mission teamed up with make-up artist Pat McGrath to sell her new range via Spotify, the first time that anything other than musicians’ merchandise was sold via the platform.
Forsyth left adam&eveDDB in February 2017, not long after the four partners completed their earnout following Omnicom’s acquisition of Adam & Eve in 2012. He will be based in the UK, working alongside Stephenson and Kevin Dundas, the CEO of Mission, who was previously CEO at Droga5 Europe, and at Saatchi & Saatchi UK.
As the big holding companies search for new models – Publicis Groupe’s “power of one;” Interpublic’s recent move into data with the acquisition of Acxiom; and WPP’s inevitable post-Sorrell shake-up – it seems that the landscape is opening out to make room for challengers who can get it right.
Sorrell has got S4 off the ground and the consultants are starting to provide viable alternatives to the legacy structures, particularly Accenture with its “experience agency” positioning, while David Jones’ You & Mr Jones “brand tech” offering has had some success.
It starts with only 200 people, but Troika/Mission Group does seem to be built on a range of skills and disciplines that could deliver on Stephenson’s promise of a fast, agile and accountable business model, particularly because it has customer experience and data already built in.
TMG has a great client base but its challenge, if it wants to be a serious player, might be in the pipeline of companies to buy. Ex-Havas CEO Jones is said to be having trouble spending all the money at his disposal, and Sorrell’s recent battle for MediaMonks (although the €300 million price tag was at a different level), shows that competition is tough if you want to buy anything good.