Agency Brief: December 2020

Welcome to The Agency Brief, a regular round-up of news, ideas, advice and brainfood for leaders of creative and digital agencies.

In The Newsroom we bring you the latest news from across the world and explore what it means for your business. There's great articles, advice and events on the latest issues in Things to learn from and What’s going on. And we round up some of the best stories on the web this week in What we’re reading.


The Newsroom

The latest news from across the world, and what it means for agencies.

» The coronavirus is mutating — what does that mean?

Whilst the news that the COVID-19 coronavirus has a mutation found in the UK, European experts are urging caution initially. Scientists say more data is needed before conclusions can be drawn and that the mutated strain has also been detected in EU

European experts urge caution over new Covid mutation found in UK
Scientists say more data is needed before conclusions can be drawn and that strain has also been detected in EU

Read more (The Guardian)

The distinctive feature of the new strain, the speed of transmission, is of grave concern, and although it is currently most prevalent in the south and east of the UK, it is likely only a matter of weeks until it is endemic across the country.

COVID-19: Government scientist warns we ‘should be very concerned’ about new strain
Sky News is an unrivalled, world class breaking news service with a spirit of innovation and a fresh approach to news broadcasting. As the UK’s first dedicated 24-hour news channel, Sky News has built a deserved reputation for being the first to break major news as well as offering insight and analy…

Read more (Sky News)

What we know about the new coronavirus mutation so far:

Mutant coronavirus strain: What we know so far
Countries across the world have banned travel from the UK to avoid importing the new variant.

Read more (Politico)

» The end of the Brexit transition period is just 10 days away

With the coronavirus mutation discovered in the UK, and the consequent closedown of the UK’s export borders with its European neighbours, there are calls to postpone the end of the Brexit transition period.

Call for Brexit transition period to be extended amid COVID crisis and border shutdown
Sky News is an unrivalled, world class breaking news service with a spirit of innovation and a fresh approach to news broadcasting. As the UK’s first dedicated 24-hour news channel, Sky News has built a deserved reputation for being the first to break major news as well as offering insight and analy…

Read more (Sky News)

Critics of the prime minister, Boris Johnson, say that his preference towards last-minute decisions has complicated the handling of the coronavirus in the UK and narrowed the window for scrutiny of any trade deal with the EU

Read more (New York Times)

The result has led the UK into ‘an abyss of overlapping crises at the worst possible time’

Analysis: Boris Johnson has led Britain into an abyss of overlapping crises at the worst possible time
A growing number of European countries halted flights from the UK following the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19, said by officials to spread faster than others. CNN’s <a href=“http://www.cnn.com/profiles/salma-abdelaziz” target=“_blank”>Salma Abdelaziz</a> has more.

Read more (CNN)

The post-Brexit border chaos has arrived early. Trucks were already queuing for the ports of Dover and Folkestone, but the new coronavirus strain has brought the border chaos feared for the new year forward to the last days of December 2020.

Read more (Washington Post)

The Australians, the nation for whom the ‘Australia-type deal’ with the EU is named, consider the worst-case Brexit ‘no deal’ to be a really bad option for the UK.

The big deal about ‘no deal’: what’s wrong with worst-case Brexit
Up to 7,000 vehicles could stack up on the motorways with delays of up to two days if there’s no deal - but there’s less than a fortnight to work it out.

Read more (Sydney Morning Herald)


Things to learn from

Articles, advice, best practice and other things to learn for your agency and your role as a leader.

» How to build and rebuild a brand: learning from the video games industry

Miles Jacobson, studio director of Sports Interactive (SI), oversaw one of the most challenging rebrands in gaming history when SI ceded the Championship Manager brand to Eidos and built spiritual successor Football Manager. He reflects on 17 years of shaping a brand out of the ashes of its predecessor, and on shaping football, too.

How to build and rebuild a brand: Football Manager’s 20-year route to the top
Miles Jacobson, studio director of Sports Interactive (SI), oversaw one of the most challenging rebrands in gaming history when SI ceded the Championship Manager brand to Eidos and built spiritual successor Football Manager. He reflects on 17 years of shaping a brand out of the ashes of its predeces…

Read more (The Drum)

» How should you talk to friends and relatives who believe conspiracy theories?

Marianna Spring, the BBC’s specialist disinformation reporter, maybe the first of her kind in the media anywhere, writes a vital read for anyone looking at what may be awkward conversations with family and friends in the holiday season — tips and insights on how to respond to people who believe in conspiracy theories.

How should you talk to friends and relatives who believe conspiracy theories?
Advice from experts and those who used to believe conspiracy theories about how to avoid rows this festive season.

Read more (BBC News)

» Military-grade camera shows risks of airborne coronavirus spread

To visually illustrate the risk of airborne transmission, The Washington Post used an infrared camera capable of detecting exhaled breath.

Read more (Washington Post)

» How do mRNA vaccines work?

mRNA vaccines are a brilliant breakthrough in vaccine medicine, but how do they work? Most vaccines contain an infectious pathogen or a part of it, but mRNA vaccines deliver the genetic instructions for our cells to make viral or bacterial proteins themselves. Our immune system responds to these and builds up immunity.

How do mRNA vaccines work?
mRNA vaccines deliver information to our cells that allows them to make viral or bacterial proteins. Our immune system reacts to the proteins and builds up immunity to the disease.

» Is business ready for Brexit?

A live discussion held by the Institute for Government on how prepared business is for Brexit. Compulsive listening for anyone leading an agency.

The panel:

  • Sally Jones, Trade Strategy and Brexit lead at EY
  • Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce
  • Adam Prince, Vice President for Product Management, Compliance, Brexit and Migration at Sage
  • Joe Marshall, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Government

Watch the Institute for Government videocast


What’s going on

Here's some dates in your diary for upcoming events.

» Women in FinTech Virtual Summit

15–16 April 2021 | by Re•Work

Discover the latest challenges, progressions and impacts from the world's leading female innovators across industry, research and the financial sector.

Women in FinTech Virtual Summit | RE•WORK
Discover the latest challenges, progressions and impacts from the world’s leading female innovators across industry, research and the financial sector.

Find out more and register


What we’re reading

Interesting and thought-provoking stories from elsewhere on the web — reading wider to learn more.

» HBR: Make Space for Grief After a Year of Loss

This pandemic year, grief is everywhere but we have nowhere to mourn, except online. There have been lives lost, and also jobs and the closeness of relationships in daily life. Those combined losses can put us at risk, and they require managing.

Make Space for Grief After a Year of Loss
Three ways managers can help people process.

Read more

» The Atlantic: Why Is There Financing for Everything Now?

Are the new online services that allow you to buy jeans or shampoo in instalments—interest-free—too good to be true?

Why Is There Financing for Everything Now?
Are the new online services that allow you to buy jeans or shampoo in installments—interest-free—too good to be true?

Read more

» McKinsey: The disaster you could have stopped — Preparing for extraordinary risks

Ignoring high-consequence, low-likelihood risks can be damaging to an organisation, but preparing for everything is impossibly costly. Here is how leaders can make the right investments.

The disaster you could have stopped: Preparing for extraordinary risks
Ignoring high-consequence, low-likelihood risks can be damaging to an organization, but preparing for everything is impossibly costly. Here is how leaders can make the right investments.

Read more

» HBR: Use OKRs to Set Goals for Teams, Not Individuals

A popular goal-setting framework, Objectives and key results (or OKRs) are an effective method for planning and measuring success on a team level. They fall short, however, when companies attempt to apply them to individual contributors.

Use OKRs to Set Goals for Teams, Not Individuals
They’re easy to game on an individual level — and probably won’t reflect real value added.

Read more

Doing your own agency planning for the end of the Brexit transition period?

Read our in-depth Board Brief paper on what the end of the Brexit transition period means for agencies, and for founders and agency leaders.

Board Briefing: What the end of the Brexit transition period means for agencies
Once a month we publish a detailed briefing for subscribers to guide in-depthdiscussions at board meetings. This is designed to bring the kind of thinking,analysis and viewpoint to your agency board meetings that you’d expect from anexperienced non-exec, but at a fraction of the cost. If just one…

Read more

And finally …

These are difficult times for everybody. If you’re in need of solace in something beautiful, then you may like to know that December saw the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, born on 16 December 1770.

To celebrate, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra have played all 9 of the Beethoven symphonies with new line-ups for the pandemic era, and are being put online throughout December.

In time for 250th anniversary on the 16 December, they released Symphony 4:


Have a very happy and healthy Christmas holiday.

See you in 2021.


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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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