CEO Martyn Rattle believes that the lack of trust in the media sector since the publication of the ANA report is a major challenge.
Martyn Rattle, Global Chief Executive Officer of Local Planet, an international network of independent media agencies, which comprises of Mediaxplain*. Local Planet launched in April.
He was recently in the Netherlands. We asked the Briton nine questions.
The Local Planet Network was launched in April this year. What has happened since?
“In the past six months, Local Planet has made tremendous progress. In addition to the strong base of agencies which already form our network, we have already seen another 17 agencies around the world choosing to join our international network. That makes Local Planet stronger and strengthens our worldwide coverage. Amongst the agencies that have joined, there is even one in Cuba, the only media agency that exists in the market! We have developed three regional hubs in Central Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and Latin America. Since our launch, we have been invited to 16 international pitches; three of which we have won and we are still in the running for another four international pitches”.
We know many (successful) international media networks. Why is there still room for another one?
“With the launch of Local Planet, we wanted to create an international network that offers clients more. There are a number of clients, not necessarily the largest clients, who don’t always feel prioritised by the established large networks. They don’t feel as if they are getting the best conditions, the best talent on their business, the best value or results. Most of the large international networks reserve their best conditions and their best people for their largest clients. This means inevitably that if you are a second or third tier client, you will be overlooked and overshadowed by your larger competitors.
We believe wholeheartedly that clients deserve better. Before Local Planet was formed, there was no international alternative for these clients. So, we feel that there is an opportunity, a gap in the market for a new network that is an alternative to the existing large networks that currently exist. ”
How did you find out that there was a gap in the market for these clients?
“Many clients are frustrated at what they are currently getting from their agencies. Before Local Planet was launched, we did a lot of research to understand what clients want and what they are missing from their chosen international agency network. I spoke to clients who said that they felt there wasn’t an alternative in the market. There was, and is, the looming issue of transparency and the growing sense of mistrust in our industry. Transparency is the cornerstone of our relationships with our clients, something each and every one of our agencies has built a solid reputation from”.
How important it is for Mediaxplain* to be part of this network? And how important is the Netherlands as a market for the rest of the network?
“Mediaxplain* is growing significantly and its client base is expanding year on year. The enterprising spirit of the Dutch market, and the attraction of Amsterdam for global clients, is evident. There are also a number of Mediaxplain*’s clients that will have international requirements. Clients who require a service outside of the Dutch market. Mediaxplain* already has connections in Belgium but clearly, there are also clients who require services outside of Benelux and this is where Local Planet’s growing network of the best-in-class independent agencies proves invaluable”.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for international networks, now and in the future?
“Dealing with transparency and the lack of confidence that has emerged since the publication of the ANA report in the US earlier this year. We shouldn’t underestimate the huge repercussions that this could have for our market. From Local Planet’s perspective, we are confident that our steadfast belief in always delivering our clients full transparency and trust will put us in good stead.
For international networks, I also think it is a big challenge to deliver, in a consistent way, what they promise their clients in every country in the world. And it’s true to say that not all of the big networks have the best agencies in every country. Local Planet is proud to have the best independent agency in each country and therefore is not going to offer its clients an average of a network, it’s going to offer the very best agency solution in each and every market”.
How independent can the agencies remain when they are part of a global network?
“The agencies are totally independent. Local Planet has a shareholder interest in its agencies, with the agencies, in turn, having a shareholder interest in Local Planet. This is what makes the Local Planet structure unique. The network is independent; it is therefore owned by the agencies. It’s not owned by external shareholders who have nothing to do with the running of the network. Therefore, by definition, they remain independent”.
What is your view on the growing powerhouses in the global media world such as Google and Facebook?
“Google and Facebook will be a partner of Local Planet’s as we evolve globally, in the same way as they are for the big agency networks. However, we mustn’t forget that consumers differ by market to market and consume media in different ways. Our Local Planet local-up approach embraces the fact that the digital landscape varies from market to market. Our philosophy is simple; whilst brands and media platforms may be global, businesses and people are still local. The key to international success, in our view, is to win the battle locally”.
So, does the local-up approach really have a chance in every sector?
“It is more important than ever, because people, business and behaviour are local and always will be. The key to international success is to win on the ground. You can’t win in the air. International success is therefore based on the success of all of the local markets”.
When will you feel that Local Planet is a success?
“When we are regularly invited to international pitches and winning ones that we want to win. When our reputation is secured as the credible and alternative media network and the only privately owned media network in the world that delivers a fully transparent service to its clients. Once that is achieved, I am satisfied.
Our ambition and mission is to have clients for life. By harnessing the young entrepreneurial spirit of the best independent agencies into one strong and credible network, we believe our clients will want to stay with us forever”.