J. Walter Thompson London has moved data squarely into the heart of the agency with its new in-house partnership with ‘data powered marketing services provider’ Blueberry Wave.
The partnership will see a unit of staff from Blueberry Wave – the ‘blueberries – based in JWT’s London office. By bringing Blueberry Wave in-house it means they can be integrated across all areas of JWT’s existing total brand experience offering, including CRM, social and content, digital technology, and shopper marketing. It also allows the agency a degree of flexibility, bringing in specific skills for particular projects.
“It’s not unusual for us but it is for many of our competitors,” said J. Walter Thompson Chief Executive James Whitehead.
While the move will provide the agency with easier access to a whole range of data-led capabilities, the move does not mark a radical departure from J. Walter Thompson’s DNA. “To an extent, data is not a new thing at J. Walter Thompson. I’d say that from the moment J. Walter Thompson invented planning, we were into data,” said James.
“When you look at this from a human point of view and take the word data out of this, it’s about being able to understand people. This is part of a journey we’ve been on for a very long time,” he continued. “We’re very excited about what will come out of it. It’s not just about having sharper insight but sharper creative.”
The announcement has been some time in the offing. According to James, JWT London had been on the hunt for a data partner and, after performing an audit on the market earlier in the year, came across Blueberry Wave. Over the summer, the two teams ran some pilot projects to get a feel for how they could be integrated.
According to Steve Mattey, Head of Operations at Blueberry Wave, the fit between the two businesses was quickly apparent and he was impressed by the agency’s commitment to data. Steve's background includes agency-side stints at Wunderman and VCCP Me.
“Even if we’re under one roof, there has to be commitment right from the top, throughout the agency to put data at the heart,” he said. “There’s a massive difference between agency groups. The cultural fit between the two businesses was there almost from the first ten minutes.”
The new in-house partnership with Blueberry Wave means that JWT can now deliver clients a data-driven, single customer view and offer data services such as customer profiling, segmentation, predictive modelling, business modelling and customer journey mapping.
James thinks that the partnership will allow the agency to respond to greater client demand for objectivity and specificity, as well as demonstrate ROI and effectiveness more clearly. “It really helps to take the conversation to a different space and a different level. It really helps both of us to be having a more robust conversation about business and marketing transformation.”