John has spent some 25-years leading some of the world’s most famous marketing services agency brands.
John has spent over 25-years leading some of the worlds most famous marketing services agency brands. As President and CEO of global firms including Publicis Groupe’s SAMS, DMB&B and IMP, he gained a huge amount of experience in building, growing and managing creative businesses.
During his eight years at Publicis Groupe he also assessed M&A potential as a buyer – and this experience on both sides of the table, makes John uniquely qualified to act as consiglieri and mentor to the CEOs of the businesses with whom he works. He has in-depth knowledge of what it takes to fulfil an ambitious growth agenda, and to position businesses for a successful monetization event.
In this time John has built an extensive network of contacts and connections, and so he is able to provide access to the best specialist advice, to give them every possible chance of fulfilling their ambitions.
See the full details of John’s experience on LinkedIn.
John Farrell & Associates partner with CEOs to provide them with the full spectrum of strategic advice to grow a successful and profitable business. This involvement usually includes chairing the board, and advising the CEO on matters involving people, clients and new business opportunities. We are also available on an as-needs basis, to act as a sounding board on any significant issues or opportunities facing the business.
One of our great strengths is the ability to be totally objective and cut to the core of what needs to be addressed, with precision and focus. However this objectivity is not without humanity – you can’t enjoy 25-years of success in the agency sector without working out how to get the most from occasionally high-maintenance, creatively-driven talent.
Mergers & Acquisitions
We have a tight-knit network of highly talented and reliable financial and legal associates. Our role in the M&A process is to help position the business in the best possible light, identify potential acquirers and/or strategic partners, and to take the lead on the top-to-top discussions to try and consummate a transaction.
We don’t do information memorandums or the “engine room” of the M&A process, and as such we are entirely comfortable working alongside specialist M&A advisory boutiques, should this be in the client’s best interest.
Ad Tech business and lead partner for Adobe on the CQ5 Platform, Cognifide are based in the UK with a technology engine in Poland. John helped Miro Walker and the executive team with an enhanced business development strategy, while simultaneously improving margins and efficiency across the business. Sold to WPP.
LBi was one of the world’s leading creative independent digital networks. Private equity backed by, amongst others, Carlyle Group. John worked with Luke Taylor, the Global CEO, on both geographic expansion and margin improvement in the core business, prior to the successful sale process. Sold to Publicis Groupe, after which LBi was merged with Digitas, forming DigitasLBi.
DNX was The UK’s business-to-business Agency of the year two-years running. John Worked closely with Drew Nicholson and Domini Pettifar, the Group CEO’s of DNX, on the development of their B2B proposition, and their growth agenda prior to the sale to Ogilvy & Mather, forming OgilvyOne Business.
Worked closely with Lord Peter Chadlington and the Huntsworth Board of Directors on the strategic plan for the Huntsworth Group. This included the development of a China strategy to support the global business development opportunities that Huntsworth had. This, in turn, led to the sale of a minority stake of Huntsworth to the fast-growing Chinese conglomerate Blue Focus.
Acceleration is a global advertising technology consultancy business based out of South Africa. John acted as a consiglieri to the Executive team, initially advising on restructuring the business, and then working closely with Jacques Van Niekerk and Stephan Pretorius on the growth agenda, leading to sale. Sold to WPP Digital.
Mould breaking advertising communications business, specialising in building technology brands. John worked closely with Jason Goodman, the CEO, on building out the capabilities of Albion, and improving profitability, whilst still enjoying growth. Sold to MDC.
John Brown Media
Industry-leading publishing and content marketing business. John Brown was majority owned by Bridgepoint private equity, so a large part of John’s role was to act as a bridgehead between the executives, the buyers and the majority private equity owners. Sold to Dentsu Aegis.
Many of the businesses that John has successfully exited remain as clients, as both the buyers and the executives see real value in our understanding of what it takes to succeed in a larger corporate environment. However, beyond these involvements John’s current portfolio includes:
Adjust Your Set
We are working closely with Chris Gorrell-Barnes, the charismatic leader of thought-leading content marketing business Adjust Your Set. We had to endure a company restructure in the light of challenging commercial circumstances and global client realignments, which had nothing to do with Adjust Your Set performance. Despite these challenges the restructure was successful, we have developed the intellectual capital and selling proposition, and put the business firmly back on the path to growth prior to the sale to the Oliver Group.
Four Communications is a leading integrated communications business with offices in the Middle East as well as the UK, where John Farrell has been appointed as chairman of the board. His role includes assisting the executive team with strategy and maintaining alignment with the shareholder base. John joined Four as part of a minority investment deal by BGF, which provided capital to accelerate the acquisition strategy being pursued by the team, led by Nan Williams.
We are assisting David Wood, the founding entrepreneur of DWA – the world’s leading independent media planning and buying business specialising the technology sector – in the transition to new global management and the positioning for accelerated growth in the future.
Octopus Group is a fast-growing independent public relations business with particular expertise in the B2B sector. We have been working with Jon Lonsdale, the Group CEO, on the reorganisation and reinvigoration of the top leadership team, and associated diversity into other business sectors. Our particular focus is on improving financial performance and driving towards larger mandates.
In our first venture into start-ups, we are helping the Founder Entrepreneurs, Ed Rogers and David Alberts, in the development of commercial propositions to take their unique offering and move it to scale with global stature brands as quickly as possible. BTDT (Been There Done That) is an anonymous online community of some of the best strategic and creative minds in the creative industries, producing outstanding branding and creative solutions for clients and agencies alike.
Matt Lynch and Rob Armstrong, the leaders of Feed, have been working with John Farrell & Associates on applying their industry leading CRM skills to a broader mix of clients, whilst maintaining their unique industry leading service standards on existing business. As an extremely high-growth business, with world class expertise in the customer relationship management field, we have also been assisting with the development of international operations in Germany and the USA.
Oliver builds dedicated agencies inside their clients worlds. They call this inside intelligence, which enables Oliver to deliver the full spectrum of marketing services communication executions.
"His mentorship style is very subtle, but I found it immensely beneficial and it suited my personal style."
"Without John's help, we definitely wouldn't be where we are today."
"He is an enormously experienced guy... nothing that phases him... there is no problem he hasn't seen."
"It's very good to have an outside perspective. Somebody who is committed to the business."
"John is an unusual mix and a very rare breed in that he combines a very acute commercial sensibility with deep subject matter expertise in the marketing services space."
John Brown Media
"He was able to come into the business straight away, add value and enable us to grow our business almost from day one."
Adjust Your Set acquired by Oliver Group
John Brown Media acquired by Dentsu Aegis iProspect Division
WPP buys majority stake in Cognifide
Article – Campaign Live
Acceleration acquired by WPP
Publicis Groupe acquires LBi
Article – Advertising Age
Article – The Guardian
Article – Publicis in deal to buy LBi for €416m — FT.com
Article – The Drum
Article – The Drum
Article – Campaign Live
Article – New York Times
Article – Design Week
Article – Media Post
Ogilvy acquires DNX
Albion sells majority stake to MDC
Four Communications funded by BGF
Article – Telegraph
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Portrait of John Farrell provided by Christopher Parsons