Today’s ‘Day in the Life’ features Gareth Davies, CEO of Leagas Delaney. Davies discusses life in a global creative agency, as well as his predictions on the future of consumer behaviour due to Covid-19.

Gareth Davies

Please describe your job: What do you do?

I’m CEO of Leagas Delaney.  We’re an independent creative agency with offices in London, Hamburg, Milan, Shanghai and Los Angeles. We help brands to become more desirable to their target audiences by creating communication strategies that result in measurable actions. My role is to help those brands get the most from our agency and our talented people.

Talk us through a typical day…

There is, of course, no such thing – and that is something that I have always found attractive about the advertising industry. That said, whilst the challenges presented each day can be very different, many of the fundamentals are the same. Most meetings tend to focus on one of four broad areas; creative strategy, new business, operations or talent. As an international agency, with five offices around the globe, and with clients in many more markets, every day brings a challenge on a new audience, category and brand. Never a dull moment, as they say.

How do you maintain an effective work/life balance?

A work-life balance isn’t something that I’ve ever pursued. Instead, I’ve always been far more interested in ways of weaving work and life together. That’s always seemed more useful and relevant to me. That’s not a vote for a ‘long hours’ culture, far from it. Instead it’s an acknowledgement that life isn’t so binary – in fact, it’s reliably unpredictable. And when either work or life calls, I want people in my team who will do the right thing in each situation and know they’ll be supported in both.

How has strategy changed at your company?

The word ‘pivot’ seemed to be everywhere in 2020. It’s hardly surprising, we’re living through unprecedented times. And whilst the word itself may be hideously over-used, the urge to respond to a dramatically changing landscape is of course right. The world of creative agencies is flooded with competition, many of which with similar positioning statements.

Our ‘pivot’ has been a conscious choice to position ourselves in line with our unique strengths, as an independent global agency with 40 years’ experience in building, and redefining, what it takes to be a desired brand. Everything that we do is focussed on helping current and future clients to benefit from that expertise.

How has customer behaviour (or your clients’ customer behaviour) changed during the pandemic?

Where do you start? We’re living through what is likely to be the most dramatic shift in consumer behaviour in our lifetimes. I think an excellent starting point though is McKinsey’s review on ‘How COVID-19 is changing consumer behaviour – now and forever’. Within it, they look at the challenges that retailers will face right across the customer buying journey. McKinsey’s analysis shows how every aspect of it will be impacted. From the physical experience of being in a shop (layouts, operating hours, high hygiene considerations etc.) through to the need for a truly seamless, omni-platform digital experience.

Most of it will resonate to any casual observer of the high street – actually implementing the full breadth of it will be far more challenging.

What do you predict for the future?

Gartner’s article on ‘Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2021 and Beyond’ caught my eye recently. Their assertion is that as technology (rapidly) evolves, immersive experiences will become more cost effective and enjoyable. And that businesses that provide physical experiences will need to evolve into also providing virtual ones. It’s something we’ve been thinking a lot about. How do you build desire if, in many cases, you can’t touch, try on or trial a product?

A continued and considered investment in building brands is of course one answer. A complementary one is by creating accessible immersive experiences. Not only can they provide another point of connection with a brand but they also represent a much needed way of bringing people together.

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

Be inventive. Necessity demands it. There are a lot of brands out there who are finding new ways to deepen engagement with their audience. In such uncertain times, the brands that demonstrate an understanding of and empathy with their audiences will be the ones that come out on top.