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Everyone is trying to create the ad agency of the future



David JonesYou &
Mr Jones

  • With the current ad agency model taking fire from all
    sides, former Havas chief David Jones believes that his
    brand-tech company You & Mr Jones may have a blueprint for
    the model of the future.
  • The ad veteran envisions a whole new ad ecosystem, with five
    or 10 companies forming a brand new category at the intersection
    of brand-building and technology.
  • Jones believes that recent events like former WPP chief Sir
    Martin Sorrell launching a new fangled ad company only prove his

With the current ad agency model under
attack from various fronts
, it’s hard to predict what exactly
the industry will look like once the dust settles. There’s no
shortage of
‘agencies are dead’ proclamations
or would-be saviors
revolutionary new business models.

Former Havas chief David Jones believes that his “brand tech”
company You & Mr Jones has figured out what marketers of the
future need in a data and tech dominated world — and that he’s
got a huge head start on the competition.

The company was formed in 2015, raising $350 million to leverage
technology to help build brands.
 Since then, it
has acquired five technology companies, invested in 21 and
launched two start-ups — all in a bid to bring marketers and
technology closer together.

Right. So what is a brand tech company exactly?

You & Mr Jones is seeking to offer a new take on the
full-service ad agency model — via which marketers got everything
they need (producing ads, buying ad space, overall strategy) from
a single firm. 

In this case, You & Mr Jones essentially plays middleman
between brands and technology companies — companies that
specialize in things modern brands increasingly need content
creation, brand strategy, chatbots, artificial intelligence and
data and analytics among others (things that traditional ad
agencies haven’t been focused on).

The idea is to make brands self-sufficient and cutting edge,
connecting marketers with startups at an early stage and helping
them with their content and tech strategies at a time when a lot
of them are moving toward moving many of those functions
in-house — without actually making their ads for them.

“We didn’t set out to compete within the advertising industry, we
set out to disrupt marketing using technology,” he said. “And if
we get it right, there will be a new sector or a new industry.”

There’s now doubt the ad industry is going through seismic shifts

Three years afterJones set out on his new journey, the industry
has only been rocked by more massive change. Some of the biggest
brands are publicly criticizing traditional agency models,
holding company stocks are getting clobbered and marketers are
increasingly looking to cut out middlemen across he board.

What’s more, new players are entering the field, promising that
they can helping brands navigate the current landscape on the
back of digital content and data analytics.

Former WPP chief
Sir Martin Sorrell’s latest venture s4 Capital
is the latest
example, promising to make marketing  better, faster
and cheaper with better application of tech. Jones sees
Sorrell’s move as a validation of his earlier theory.

“For me, the biggest proof of this working was when you had the
guy who created the biggest holding company in the world saying
that he was launching a new digital version of that because they
don’t have a future,” Jones told Business Insider. “Imitation,
after all, is the best form of flattery.”

As a result, the momentum has only been accelerating for You
& Mr Jones, with the company seeing 60% organic growth last
month, according to Jones. 

The industry’s existential crisis is working in is favor, Jones

“You probably can’t find a major global client today who would
tell you that they’re happy with what they’ve got and it’s all
sorted,” said Jones.

“You’ve got all the holding companies tanking, and you’ve got the
biggest clients in the world publicly saying we don’t want that
model anymore.”

You & Mr Jones is like a mini venture capital firm for brands
and technology

While the traditional holding companies are great at
brand-building and advertising, they are often less skilled when
it comes to building tech products, says Jones. On the other
hand, giant tech platforms are less verse in brand building.
That’s where You & Mr Jones fits in, according to Jones.

“The core advantage of You & Mr Jones is that we combine, in
one group, both expertise in technology and expertise in
branding,” he said. 

To ensure tech expertise, You & Mr Jones has invested in AI,
blockchain and AR across companies including Niantic, Pinterest,
Automat, Jivox and Pixlee among others.

It has 11 partners with years of agency experience in the center,
who meet with as many as 20 new companies at the
intersection of brand-building and technology a week.

“This gives us and our clients unique insight into where
technology and marketing technology is headed, way beyond the
narrow realm of just ‘communications,” he said. 

, the company behind the AR game Pokémon GO, which
Jones believes is the perfect proof- point of brand-tech. In
Japan, McDonald’s was embedded in the game for just a few days,
and sales sales went up 27% for the month.

“This is exactly what brand-tech is,” said Jones. “It is the
ability to drive growth for a brand using technology in
completely different ways.”

“Experience has been a focal point of brands and CMOs looking to
drive growth beyond conventional advertising and marketing,” said
Forrester analyst Jay Pattissal. “So firms like You & Mr
Jones have an opportunity to drive direct relationships with
brands, in the same way Google, Adobe and Amazon do.”

The company wants to create a whole new industry

Jones believes the ad agency business is on the precipice of a
complete reinvention with five or 10 companies emerging to form a
new category of marketing technology holding companies. In fact,
he believes that recent events prove his hypothesis.

“There will be companies like S4 within that, and there’ll be
companies like Stagwell within that and I’m sure new ones who
come along,” he said. “I maybe didn’t envisage that Martin
Sorrell will be launching one of those competitors, but we have
always believed that this is what clients want and need.”

But Jones maintains that You & Mr Jones has an edge, because
it operates without the constraints of a fund and also works
directly with brands apart from its investments. He wants
marketers to think like startups, not giant incumbents.

“Airbnb didn’t get up and say ‘we want to compete with hotels,’
they used technology to do something new, and Lyft and Uber
didn’t say ‘we’re going to screw the yellow taxis.'”

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