Agency Outlooks and Insights: an interview with Andrew Bailey of The&Partnership

January 19, 2018

Before Andrew Bailey was named one of Ad Age’s Top 40 under 40, and before he became the CEO of The&Partnership North America, he grew up in Ontario. Today, leading offices in New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, he is responsible for clients like the Wall Street Journal and TELUS.

He believes that while much of the agency world is changing, every agency’s advantage remains the same: understanding consumers and hiring people with great ideas. At the same time, he sees agencies that can effectively use data as unlocking new possibilities of engaging consumers in one-to-one relationships like never before.

We welcome Andrew Bailey on Friday January 26th for the SOLD OUT Annual Agency Panel: Marketing INsights & OUTlooks For 2018, alongside agency leaders from Will Creative, Wasserman + Partners, and Wildfire.




Expect to hear about how he believes AI-driven creative production engines will transform an agency’s ability to produce creative, and about his love of Vancouver’s seawall. Here’s a preview:

Before we talk 2018, I would like to speak about 2017 and how it went for The&Partnership – especially how you were viewing the year twelve months ago

So we had a very, very strong 2017 from a growth and profile standpoint. We really solidified our relationship with TELUS, and in the US we expanded our relationship with Dow Jones. In Canada we picked up Purolator and Sleemans/Sapporo. In the US we won Chico’s FAS and Captain D’s, which is a fast casual restaurant chain, so strong growth. We brought in a new Head of Strategy and it was the first full year of having Wil Boudreau (their Chief Creative Officer). I think what we saw consistently in a world where agencies are struggling to redefine themselves, is that media and data are really central to an agency’s success today.

2017 saw a lot of innovations in terms of technology, business, politics, social causes. These include automation, political Trump polarization and activism of all sorts using media platforms. Do you expect any of these to impact the creative or how you strategize in 2018?

There is no doubt that Trump’s campaign had a very surgical approach to advertising to their supporters and potential voters. So one theme that goes through everything we do is one-to-one conversation at scale. The ability for us to have a big brand idea and make it flow into all the areas that it needs to and really change perceptions and drive actions.

The #MeToo movement is another expression of transparency and old structures, old ways of thinking and working continuing to crumble. That’s part of the reason why the people who run The&Partnership came to this company – because we don’t want to get stuck in legacy thinking.

One thing that is huge for us is that we are an early adopter with AI technology as it informs creative work. We pitched and won Chico’s this year —a female fashion brand— and we showed them a strong idea and design system that uses an AI-driven production engine to develop all their digital assets that is way more intelligent. We’ll see more of that across Digital and CRM in 2018.

Now, looking at how the big four consulting firms have gone into the digital agency world, has that helped a hybrid agency like yourself or has it changed the way that clients and yourselves look at the industry?

I have a pretty clear point of view on the consultancies, and that is that I have yet to see an instance where a consultancy can think about a client’s business from a creative and brand perspective the way that an agency can. Their desire is to not just do digital but to cover the whole through-the-line scope of a client’s needs. They are very far from understanding creative culture and what clients need today. I’d go so far to say that they have had little-to-no effect on us. Perhaps that’s because we have media, digital capabilities and analytics. We are pretty confident in what we can do for our client’s needs. And we have a bunch of people who have built their careers very successfully by helping brands find themselves.

The&Partnership is a Multinational, with the ability to be high touch and low touch. What technology do you believe a mid-sized agency should take advantage of and deploy in 2018?

Data, generally. Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are critical, because a lot of clients now, their starting point is looking at the data they already have first party, append it, and see which audiences we can target. It’s critical that we’re helping clients surgically understand how to go after their different audiences.

If you want competitive advantage, looking at AI as a tool to further their production ability. But it isn’t just production, the data informs the type of creative a consumer someone on the West coast of Canada receives compared to someone freezing in Toronto. It informs the kind of creative you develop and how efficiently you develop it for the client.

And finally, what are the qualities you’re looking for in a new hire in 2018?

Insatiable curiosity, strong strategic acumen, the ability to make the work better through their input and contribution. The ability to bounce back up when you get knocked down. And someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously – because it’s a very interesting time. It’s a fun and exciting, and sometimes excruciating, difficult business to be in.  So if you don’t have the ability to bounce back from a bad day with the same energy as a good day, then you’re in trouble.

This breakfast event at the Vancouver Club (915 West Hastings Street) begins at 7:30am (doors at 7am) on January 26, 2018. Tickets for this event have sold out, however you can still put your name on the waitlist or follow us on the day of @BCAMA and #BCAMATLS.



Andrew Bailey is the CEO & Partner at The&Partnership North America. He has been responsible for growing this UK Agency in the US and Canada, and has lead them to major growth with clients like The Wall Street Journal, TELUS and Sleeman. Andrew will be a speaker at the BCAMA’s Annual Agency Panel on January 26th.




Arpy Dragffy is the Head Strategy for PH1 Media, a local Research, Strategy, & Innovation Studio, and the Thought Leadership Manager for the BCAMA.