How three brand experience agencies have evolved in 18 years

Event looks at how Jack Morton, Innovision and GMR Marketing have changed since 1997.

#Event18: GMR Marketing's Canon experience at London Fashion Week last year
#Event18: GMR Marketing's Canon experience at London Fashion Week last year

Celebrating 18 years: Innovision 

Andrew Douglass, founder and chief executive at Innovision, which delivered the three-day GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai in March, tells Event that over the past 18 years the agency has moved premises three times, broadened its offering to include services such as account management, planning and film and grown its team. 

Douglass attributes the agency’s continued growth to four main factors – the diversity of its work, consistency, trust and staff. 

"For many years, we described ourselves as being ‘deliberately diverse,’ he says.  

"We strive to be innovative and creative, but this is underpinned at all times by flawless delivery. As a result, many of our clients trust us implicitly and will allow us to further push the boundaries to do bigger, bolder and more complex things.

"It is also important to acknowledge our staff – and not just our full-time teams over the years, but our trusted pool of freelancers and suppliers. By having this trusted network, who understand our values and obsession with quality, we have been able to flex and continue to grow," Douglass explains. 

He notes the industry has changed dramatically over the years, and believes that Innovision has effectively responded to such changes. 

"When we set up Innovision, most people in the industry had fallen into it or gravitated towards it from theatre. These days, the events industry is seen as a credible career, which is a very good thing.

"The way in which we responded was to continually embrace change and, in some instances, lead change. You cannot afford to stand still and, at the very least, keeping up with the pace of change is essential."

Over three decades and still going strong: GMR Marketing 

GMR Marketing has undergone a series of positive changes over the last 18 years, explains managing director James Hunt. 

"Since 1997 we’ve significantly grown the scale, expertise and capabilities of the agency through a combination of mergers and acquisitions. 

"We now have more people delivering a broader range of services for our clients from more locations than ever before, and as the marketing industry continues to globalise and our clients require more complex strategic solutions we hope the next 18 years are even better than the last," he explains. 

Hunt notes GMR’s ability to withstand the test of time is a reflection of the agency’s commitment to its philosophy. 

"Our approach hasn’t changed over the years, staying in tune with consumers’ passions has allowed us to grow the business through good old fashioned, long-standing client relationships, helping our clients connect again and again," he says. 

Social media and other digital channels have prompted the industry’s growth and, most notably, the rise of experiential events, explains Hunt. 

"The authenticity of a live brand experience really resonates with the modern consumer and, by leveraging the rich and often personalised content generated at events, they are more willing to engage, share and advocate brands within their networks. 

"It’s a powerful way of shifting awareness, advocacy and long term behaviour, meaning experiential now sits firmly as part of the marketing mix." 

The golden oldie: Jack Morton  

Glasgow 2014 (c. credit Graham Carlow)

According to Julian Pullan, president, EMEA, Jack Morton Worldwide the agency has undergone a name change, expanded overseas and reported positive financial growth since 1997. Glasgow 2014 was a key higlight for the agency too.

He tells Event: "Jack Morton was actually operating as Caribiner in 1997 and became part of Jack Morton in 2000. Since then we have grown geographically as an agency, last year opening offices in Dusseldorf, Munich and Seoul – we now have 19 offices across the globe, and our net revenue has grown globally by 255% since 1997.

"We’ve achieved this growth by remaining aligned with clients’ needs and business objectives through the years. We have focused our investments on strategy, creative and digital, and thus have become a partner to our clients, helping them to build competitive advantage, as opposed to being a commodity supplier."

Pullan notes that technology and particularly social media have reconfigured the events industry, and the agency’s make-up has changed in response. 

"Social media has created a whole new category – experience as content, which has created huge opportunity for the industry. 

"The mix of talent at Jack is very different to 1997. We now have a much higher percentage of creative staff, as well as creative strategists, business strategists, digital strategists, social media planners, and a different breed of account directors and producers," he explains. 

Pullan ultimately believes human nature at its most basic is the same as it has always been. "What has changed is our ability to understand them [consumers] and target them, and the tools which helps us to do so. We are now better placed than ever to analyse and track behaviour," he says.   

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