“I’m a massive believer in the work’s as good as the client's relationship with the agency,” said Jobling as she opened by talking about both the personal relationship she has with Golding, but also the one that exists between the two businesses. She revealed that while the two of them don’t always agree, “we’re focused on output and actually that’s the most important thing.”
Golding echoed Jobling’s feeling by explaining that, within a partnership such as theirs, “the pressure is much higher in those relationships because you’re so much more invested.” She says that the secret to the teams’ success has been to make sure they all work the same way, to avoid the politics that often permeates into professional relationships. Fundamentally, she adds, “the secret to our success has been brutal honesty with each other, with our teams.”
Jobling puts it best when she says that, while it’s a great working relationship, “like any other marriage, you have your good days and your bad days but the most important bit for me is communication.” That means that if something’s not right, Jobling believes, you should talk about it. Equally, if you like it, recognise that.
For Jobling, the client is as much responsible for the work that’s produced and the working environment that exists as the agency is. She feels there is a “direct correlation” between quality of relationship and quality of work and that ultimately, “clients get the work they deserve.”
A moment of reset
In 2019, Centrica as a whole went through a large global pitch, a moment Carpenter labels as one of “reset and restructure.” Jobling reveals that at that point she realised that the business was quite disparate in how it communicated. She wanted to examine the data on offer to the brand and explore how they could use it more effectively, to bring about change and transformation. While the brand had a huge amount of data on their consumers, they weren’t making the most of it in their marketing or internal behaviour.
Jobling explains: “We really wanted it to force us internally to think differently about how our brands show up, how our marketing model operates and how we leverage actually what is a competitive edge for us, which is data.” The solution, they felt, was to create a wholly integrated system, a creative platform that would engage both internally and externally.
Golding says that when it came to the pitch process, they had to prove themselves to Jobling and her team but that “Marg respected that we knew some stuff, that we knew things about the brand and the business that could help her and then she gave us that chance.” It was, Golding adds, “the brave thing to do.”
Golding talked openly about the difficulties the agency faced coming into the process as the incumbent agency, particularly after 14 years of working together: “It’s really hard to win because when the brief is, this is a reset moment for the business globally, you’re not seen as the reset guys. You’re seen as the old guys. You’re seen as the past not the future.” Jobling echoes Golding’s view, likening the incumbent to “a comfy pair of slippers. How do you make sure you don’t just show up the way you’ve always shown up?”
So, Golding and The&Partnership set about to build a new team from scratch, to create a team that was “a combination and a good balance of old and new. So, faces, personalities and talents organised together to drive growth.” This team made up of a selection of WPP agencies including The&Partnership, MediaCom, WundermanThompson and BCW, was labelled Nucleus, a new assembly that allowed the agency to organise themselves differently. This combination of old and new was, says Jobling, the “rocket fuel” they needed.
“It allowed us to reinvent ourselves, bring in the new model, be truly data and customer first, properly integrated, modern in our thinking and our output,” explains Golding, revealing that she eventually came round to the idea that Jobling had been right all along. “So, was it worth it? Yes, it was in the end, but I did age about ten years,” she adds with a laugh.