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Trends and Insight

A Genuine Collaboration That Adds Value to All of Us

Santiago Puiggari, CEO and partner of Together w/, on what he gleaned from the Denver Regional Growth Summit

A Genuine Collaboration That Adds Value to All of Us

“We always talk about the power of independence. Honestly, independence is a team sport. We have 72 agencies across forty countries and what has been critical about that team orientation is our ability to truly collaborate on our clients’ behalf. Holding companies can’t collaborate. But it is core to our DNA. Collaboration is about people, people who have a commitment to one another, who have shared values, and recognizes that independence runs deep - a team sport.” 

With these words, John Harris, president & CEO of Worldwide Partners (WPI), reflected the spirit of collaboration that surrounded the global network of independent agencies’ Denver Regional Growth Summit.

This summit was a meeting to learn and share what it means to be an independent agency nowadays. And, more than ever, after a long year of confinement, a meeting to see each other and let the energy of knowledge sharing and collaboration flow.

“Being an independent agency today for tomorrow means helping brand marketers reimagine growth through new minds, new markets, new capabilities and new business opportunities,” said by WPI. 

In Together w/ we added that being an independent agency today for tomorrow means being able to develop talents, without ties or bureaucracy, and to make them shine. It means having the right skills to create fast, agile and innovative solutions that drive brands forward.

During the Summit we discovered that our challenges are the same throughout the world, regardless of geography, agency size or specialty. These challenges are about talent, clients, creativity and the irruption of consulting firms and technology companies into the industry. We also agreed that there is no better time for being an independent marketing, technology and communications agency. 

And, especially, that collaboration is above all. Because being independent comes from a team effort.


Lisa Colantuono and the importance of relationships in pitches 

What are the keys to a successful process? What aspects should agencies consider when entering a pitch? Lisa Colantuono (AAR Partners’ president) shared with us many insights from clients on the pitching process, which strategies and tactics to include, and which to avoid.

“This year clients do not select agencies based on creativity. They select agencies that work on synergies. What they really wonder is: ‘Does that agency truly understand my business and operations?’. That’s the source of deep relationships that endure,” she said.


What caught my attention was that she focused specially on building relationships with clients, between people. She talked about building a togetherness with the client, which is a feature that characterizes our services, and it is definitely in our essence. 

“You can’t win two battles in one pitch,” she added. “Stop trying to sell your agency and build a relationship at same time. Focus on the relationship.”


Nancy Hill and the dilemma of how to attract talent

Talent recruitment, retention and development issues are similar across the world. Everyone is looking for new ways to interact with employees, collaborators and partners.

What will keep people happy or engaged? Three things: pay, PTO and respect.


Agency culture is much the same as it was before the pandemic but should be revisited to address the lack of physical hours in the office.

“In the absence of a physically ‘shared commitment’, the reality of work itself is not enough to keep people happy or engaged. People must be revisited to meet the new work environment in which we are all immersed today. They must be future-proofed and not dependent on the camaraderie built into physical space and hours in the office,” said Nancy Hill (Founder at The Agency Sherpa). And she mentioned three areas of discussion: recruiting, retention and development. 

In addition, she said that the culture of agencies in the post-pandemic will continue to be defined by:

-Shared purpose and goals

-Organizational structure

-Defined roles and responsibilities

-Values and behaviors that define success (for the FUTURE)

-A new definition of what success actually means (which includes employee welfare)


Doug Baxter and the need for genuine collaboration in acquisitions 

Mergers & Acquisitions has never been more relevant to independent agencies than what it is today because of the possibility for indies agencies to be acquired or to join other bigger agencies, or even, to buy other firms themselves. In relation to this, Doug Baxter (Founder and Managing Director at Agency Futures) took a tour of the current situation and opportunities on the market.

From Together w / we were able to share our experience of having acquired FCB in Argentina, which generated a lot of interest because it is not a common case. The equation is usually the other way around - generally the holding companies are the ones that acquire smaller firms founded by entrepreneurs.

By way of example John Harris and other WPI members presented success stories of collaboration between independent agencies, which I had not seen in any of the holding companies or networks where I have worked at before. 

On the whole I am left with the certainty that collaboration between entrepreneurs and independent agencies is genuine and does add value. 




By Santiago Puiggari, CEO & Partner Together w/

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