UM launches ‘Futureproof’ as new agency model

um futureproof

Media Agency UM has announced a proprietary ‘Futureproof’ approach that offers a new agency model for clients, a refreshed approach to talent and a more future-facing lens on some of the cultural and ethical issues impacting the media and advertising industry.

In response to rapidly changing consumer behaviour and a demographically evolving society, Futureproof is centred on the notion of being ready for what’s next, through: a new operating model that flips the

legacy model on its head; an agency culture that attracts and retains more diverse talent; and a closer scrutiny on the ethics of social platforms and data transparency.

UM launches Futureproof

It is an approach that has been refined and embedded over the past 12 months internally, designed to integrate with all of the agency tools and processes, and across key UM clients such as Johnson & Johnson, AMEX, Spotify, Coca-Cola and Mattel. It was also a critical component in the recent wins of Honda Motor Europe and Dr Martens in EMEA.

“Futureproof has been a complete shift in our mind-set and our approach to working with clients”, said Tom Di Sapia, Chief Strategy Officer for UM EMEA. 

“In a world of radical and fast-moving change, where every client has a very specific challenge to address, the very notion of a single fixed way of working feels redundant”.

“In its essence, the Futureproof model is about closing the gap between audience insight and action, through agile teams that are built around our clients’ goals and can operate in real time. This creates a new way of working, with every decision built from real consumer behaviour, running at the pace of culture – ultimately allowing us to navigate our clients’ futures more successfully,” he added.

Tom DiSapia UM
Closing the gap: UM’s Di Sapia sees a whole new way for agencies to evolve.

UM’s proprietary global channel planning and optimisation platform, Growth Accelerator, is central to the Futureproof planning process. 

Built from the ground up, it is the latest iteration of UM’s industry-leading, end-to-end planning tool and includes a number of powerful AI and machine learning algorithms that enable planners to optimise their plans to help Futureproof clients’ businesses.

Data is crucial

Data is also a crucial element. As the cookieless world beckons, UM has a strong competitive edge with its Acxiom partnership – able to architect people-first data strategies and build authentic audiences that can be fully integrated with the agency planning tools and rolled out at speed.

UM said it was its Futureproof approach to data transformation that led to its most recent Honda Motor Europe win – which put agile planning and analytics at the heart of everything, powered by a truly integrated team of specialists.

The Futureproof planning process has already been crucial in helping clients such as Johnson & Johnson accelerate into digital and e-commerce, and to drive accelerated growth powered by a team of audience and shopper specialists. 

It has also enabled a more dynamic approach to planning, which transforms the speed in which campaigns are planned and executed by taking advantage of real time data signals to drive messaging.

“The beauty of our Futureproof model is that it is borderless, and can draw on the brilliant and diverse capabilities across the whole of our region – giving clients access to the specialists they need for any given future outcome,” said Rachel Forde, CEO UM UK.

Rachel Forde - UM CEO
Borderless future: UM CEO Forde can draw on diverse capabilities from the UK and EMEA regions.

“Building and nurturing this great talent across the UK and the wider EMEA region, based on our clients’ changing needs, is a key focus for 2021 – especially as areas such as ecommerce and shopperbility become so crucial for future success.

“We’ve also given CEOs strict diversity targets, (IPG was the first holding group to link those targets directly to CEO compensation) – because we know that to truly engage with consumers, we need to understand and reflect the beautifully diverse societies in which our clients operate,” she added.

Meaningful industry impact

The final pillar of Futureproof is UM’s quest to have a meaningful impact on our industry as a whole when it comes to media ethics and sustainability. 

UM said it has a strong legacy in calling out stereotypes in advertising and providing insights around under-represented groups, having produced reports around women in ads, disenfranchised youth, the LGBTQ+ community and most recently a powerful report into negative portrayals of masculinity and its link to mental health. 

Each time, the focus has been on the role that brands can – and should – play, in creating a better outlook, and the collective responsibility that the industry has to address and call out such harmful trends.

“Brands have such an important role to play in stamping out the harmful stereotypes that have traditionally been far too prevalent in advertising, which is why we have always placed so much focus and investment in this area”, Forde said. 

“We see it as our duty, through our great insights capabilities, to educate clients around these topics, to shine a light on communities that have often been completely forgotten in advertising – and to create a future in which all members of our society are represented and spoken to in a fair and authentic way”.

The ethical stance extends to partner ethics, too, UM said. 

The agency has spent significant time over the past six months educating clients around its ten Media Responsibility Principles, which index social platforms against ethical and transparency criteria – and intend to give clients a full and clear picture of the platforms and vendors they choose to invest in.

“The beauty of Futureproof is that, by its very nature, it is constantly evolving” Di Sapia said. 

“The theory behind it was forged by working with some of the world’s most exciting and future-facing brands, like Spotify, FitBit and Just Eat – and will continue to develop as those brands find new challenges and we partner with them to address them. 

“Our promise to our clients is that we will never stand still. After the year we’ve just had, none of us will ever know for certain what’s around the corner. But whatever it is, we know we’ll be ready for it.”