It’s time to build up. Exclusive interview with Tom Goddard
Tom Goddard, the British expert and Member of the Atlantic Group Board of Directors, talked about the development of the global and Ukrainian media markets, forecasts for the further media of Ukraine, and raised the veil over the holding transformation processes at the request of FOCUS.
You are a shareholder and director of many agencies around the world. Tell us about how the foreign media market is developing in recent years?
The media market has changed out of all recognition for the past 10 years. We’ve seen the tsunami of change in a digital media world. For example, the OOH sector is now gone from being an old legacy billboard media to one of the most dynamic, fastest-growing media. It happens a lot thanks to digitalization and conversion of all of the high-quality locations into digital screens.
The biggest change is the growing popularity of social media, the arrival of mobile online media, and the fact that traditional media like press is slowly morphing into digital.
What do your Western colleagues say about our Ukrainian market?
Due to lack of funding of the local market Ukraine is a low level player, so you have only one way – up.
The investment per capita in communications in Ukraine is lower than in Western Europe of the United States. For every dollar that’s spent on communications in Ukraine, 2 dollars are spent in Europe and 4 dollars are spent in the US. We want to raise indicators for such investments. There’s confidence, that Ukrainian market will consistently grow and outperform both European and global growth in the next 5 years. 45 million people population is a great potential after all, and thanks to it Ukrainian market is a point of a great interest. Though is lacks more political stability and transparency for strengthening trust between partners.
You joined Atlantic Group in May 2014. Why Ukraine?
There wasn’t a goal to work specifically with Ukraine. I was introduced to David Stewart, Andy Bain and Sergey Staritskiy by a banker in London. They were looking for an independent executive director with experience in media to come on to the Board and to give them a general perspective of the media landscape.
Because a lot of the international advertising agency business is headquartered in London it was felt that the London-based media professional would suit to the task. And for me the decisive role was played by meeting the Board of Atlantic and meeting the team.
You saw the potential in working with the Ukrainian team?
Oh yeah. A fantastic young team, a bit dominated by ‘girl power’, - it is great. I always look forward to my trips to Ukraine: I feel that people in Atlantic always strive to do things the professional way, by the letter of the law. There’s always a great interest in learning the best practices.
To grow further on
What do you think is the most correct vector of development for the Ukrainian media market and Ukrainian companies? How many players follow this path?
Ukrainian companies need to get up to the international standards in terms of accountability and transparency as soon as possible, and build more confidence in working with international advertising networks. I think this would encourage more international advertisers to invest in advertising and market development.
A good work has been done on this scope, but there’s still a lot of thigs to do: get to the highest level of accountability, enable companies to measure return on investment. Atlantic does all of that already, and that’s one of the things that I like about the holding - the team always strives to use the most advanced global practices.
Tell us briefly about the transformation that is currently taking place in the Atlantic Group. Why is it necessary? To what result should it lead to?
Due to the economic and political challenges of the past 5 to 10 years in Ukraine, we were not able to raise the bar: there was a need to just continue to provide the services to our clients in a qualitative way and to be a stable partner.
But now as things are settling down and growth is coming back into the market, we will restructure the Atlantic for growth. Our team is going for super growth. We can provide fully integrated service for our Ukrainian clients, but also we can develop a hub for communications and media. We want to grow the business, profitable for our stakeholders and our staff.
When a company sets itself on a growth path, it means the existing staff base has more opportunities to grow as well. In the moment, we are in the process of reorganizing some departments, growing efficiency and synergy between them.
The assets of oil companies are below the ground, but ours are here, going up and down in the office elevator every day. Our employees are our main assets. We are interested in investing in them, providing them with possibilities for training and decent working conditions, and we are interested in working with them as long as possible.
Sounds like a recipe for success. What else should the company remember in today's business environment to succeed?
That the world stands aside for a person with a legible plan. A company has to have a very detailed sustainable plan. This is what Atlantic Group’s experts are working on now, we are currently putting the finishing touches on.
Another rule is to adopt world’s best practices and develop your own, to strengthen trust with clients and partners.
I like to say: despite the fact that we live in a huge multinational world, we are all a small “media village”, where information spreads everywhere in a blink of an eye. That’s why advertisers require a fully integrated plan, where everybody’s speaking on the same theme, with the same message. So I think we are moving into a new stage where only the medium to large-sized companies will have the meaningful role going forward.
there are really only 6 or 7 big international groups in the communications world, with WPP, Dentsu Aegis, Omnicom among them. The future is theirs, because global groups and their affiliated agencies in different countries communicate in a joint, well-defined direction. Disparate companies lack this unity, and it affects their effectiveness.
Affiliate arrangements with big media brands are the important part of Atlantic Group’s strategy for a moment. This will be emphasized in the near future.
Responsibility and risk
Social responsibility of business is the topic world community has started speaking louder about. How strong is this trend in the field of media business?
I think media does a terrific work for civic causes and a huge contribution to charities. For example, my London company Ocean has selected two particular directions of social activities. The first is informational support and sponsorship of London Air Ambulance. The second one is the Ocean for Oceans initiative, designed to solve the problem of pollution of the oceans with plastic debris.
As for Atlantic Group, let me remind you about the recent project Don’t Let the Forest Suffocate. It’s a social ad, created by PROVID for World Wide Fund for Nature. Its goal is to protect Carpathian forest from illegal felling.
There are many examples like these, and I am sure that new Atlantic’ social initiatives won’t keep us waiting too long.
Do you consider social responsibility to be the destiny of a mature commercial project only?
No. I don’t think at all that it only should be responsibility of big corporations. There’s a global need in deeds that benefit the society and make the world a better place, and everyone can contribute to that, whether it’s a big holding or a sole entrepreneur – a one-mans-band.
Let’s imagine that time travels are real things and you managed to come back to your past, the period you had just begun your way in the media business. What is the only piece of advice you would give yourself then?
We can’t always play safe in the communication business. We have to be daring and creative. One great business philosopher said once: “Never regret what you’ve done; only regret what you haven’t done”. So I would encourage young people who are working with communications to try new things all the time even if some of them lead you to failure. 8 successful tries out of 10 is a result that’s good enough.
If I could turn back time I would take some more chances and try new things more often. Take a risk, fall over, but get back up and keep moving forward: mistakes are part of the path, they are new experience, and perseverance and fresh outlook on things are necessary to succeed.