Executive Consultancy And M&A Advice For Creative Businesses

John has spent some 25-years leading some of the world’s most famous marketing services agency brands.

John Farrell is currently serving as a Senior Advisor / Non-Executive Director / Chairman for several advertising, media, marketing services and technology businesses, including Oliver, Transmission, Hanover, Blis, Been There Done That (BTDT) and MarketOne.

John Farrell

John has also lead the successful exit of more than twenty businesses over the last eight years including amongst others: Feed, Octopus Group, AML and Oliver.

John also provides consultancy services to The Legends Golf Tour (formerly The European Senior Golf Tour) The Business Model Company, and various other media and marketing services specialists. John was most recently Executive responsible for all of Publicis Groupe Worldwide Specialised Agencies and Marketing Services (SAMS) with effect from the beginning of 2003.

Previously, John has been President and CEO of D’ Arcy Worldwide, one of the top ten global advertising and communication networks; President of the IMP (now ‘Arc’) European Network of Direct and Promotional Marketing Businesses; and has some client-side experience with Atlas Copco, Butlins UK and LRC International.

John is also Honorary President of the Institute of Sales Promotion, and Founder Member of the Direct Marketing Association of Great Britain. He was also recently The Master of the Worshipful Company of Marketors Livery Company. He has a BA (Hons) in Business Studies from Nottingham Trent University, where he is now Visiting Professor of Marketing.

See the full details of John’s experience on LinkedIn.

Strategic Advice

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.

Objective Counsel

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.

Past clients


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.

Ogilvy DNX

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.


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.

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.

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.

Octopus Group

Founded in 2001, Octopus Group is a full-service creative agency working in the B2B sector. Based in London, the company has won a number of industry awards, including the B2B Marketing Awards Grand Prix, and today its 60-strong team works with leading international clients across diverse B2B industries. Recently Octopus Group was acquired by Publicis Groupe UK to provide a centre of excellence for B2B communications in Europe.


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.


Fold7 is an iconic advertising and communications business, delivering award-winning campaigns, to clients both nationally and internationally. John’s Role is to provide strategic counsel to the creative founder, Ryan Newey, and the CEO, Marc Nohr.

Leagas Delaney

Leagas Delaney is a premium creative advertising agency, with a national and international creative reputation. John’s role was to provide counsel to the CEO, Margaret Johnson, and the founder and principle, Tim Delaney.


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.


2Heads looks to create meaningful brand experiences worldwide, with an offering that includes exhibitions, brand activations, permanent installations and digital, innovation and creative technology.

Four Communications

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.

Current clients

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:


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.

John’s role is to act as a consigliere to Simon Martin, the CEO, on all aspects of the Oliver business growth strategy, and future direction.

John has worked closely with Simon Martin on the successful sale of the Oliver business to the fast growing holding company You & Mr Jones.


AML is a specialist agency taking complex business propositions and developing simple and powerful communications in a compelling way for clients. John’s role is to work with the creative founder, Ian Henderson, and the board of AML to help them with growing the business and taking it to the next level.


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.


Transmission is a full-service B2B marketing agency delivering solutions for world-class customer experiences – with an eye toward the future.


MarketOne is a global demand generation agency that does the kind of marketing that delivers quantifiable sales outcomes and aim to be the first a55nd only partner our clients turn to when they have a number to hit.

Hanover Comms

Hanover Comms advise companies on how to identify, articulate and propagate a clear brand positioning, purpose and strategy. One that is clear, memorable and ensures differentiation in an increasingly competitive fight for audience mindshare. So everyone can understand who you are, what you stand for and why you’re right for them.


"He's a conscience on my shoulder, he's a confidant, he's a mentor."

Chris Bagnall - Transmission


"When you're in a business like we're in, it's really intense, it's your baby, John completely gets that."

Jon Lonsdale - Octopus


"John is probably the most authentic person in this industry that I’ve ever worked with."

Simon Martin - Oliver

Leagas Delaney

"One of John’s greatest strengths is asking the right questions… and making sure that he gets those answers. He is direct… keeps things simple… and he likes to get to the crux of the matter."

Margaret Johnson - Leagas Delaney


"His mentorship style is very subtle, but I found it immensely beneficial and it suited my personal style."

Jacques van Niekerk - Acceleration


"Without John's help, we definitely wouldn't be where we are today."

Drew Nicholson - OgilvyOne


"He is an enormously experienced guy... nothing that phases him... there is no problem he hasn't seen."

John Goodman - Albion


"It's very good to have an outside perspective. Somebody who is committed to the business."

Miro Walker - Cognifide


"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."

Luke Taylor - DigitasLBi

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."

Andrew Hirsch - John Brown Media


"I was impressed by John’s tremendous ability to see through the clutter… and identify the key, salient points …. you want someone that’s going to challenge you, but at the same time, someone that’s going to encourage you, and John is very good at doing both."

David Wood - DWA

Adjust Your Set

"He came in with great advice, great knowledge and great connectivity… He can help open doors… he brings a wealth of knowledge and advice… and also a sense of calmness... He’s an advisor, he’s a friend, he’s a mentor."

Chris Gorrell Barnes - Adjust Your Set


"John brings to AML edge with empathy."

Ian Henderson - AML

Fold 7 has sold 55% stake to Miroma Group

Article – Campaign Live

John Farrell & Associates wins Best Strategic Marketing Services Agency in South East England – M&A Awards 2021

Article – Acquisition International

Four Communications funded by BGF

Article – Telegraph

Marketing leader interviews

Sir Martin Sorrell – Executive Chairman S4 Capital

Alan Jope – Current worldwide CEO of Unilever

Baroness Martha Lane Fox – Founder of LastMinute.com

Eric Nicoli, CBE – Executive Chairman of Yo Sushi, Former Chairman of EMI and United Biscuits

Steve King – COO Publicis Groupe

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