Mid-Year Check-In & Returning To Office

From Donnalyn Smith, President, North America, Momentum Worldwide

With most of the ad industry still WFH during the first half of 2021, how do you think the future of work/return to office will shift in the second half of the year?

The industry will be more flexible in terms of how we all see the role of the office. We’ve all learned so much about our teams—their resilience has been fantastic—and the importance of collaboration, community, and culture. Those insights are powering smart return-to-office plans that provide flexibility and the ability to ensure a thriving culture of inclusion for all employees regardless of where they set up their computer.

At Momentum we have been open on a voluntary basis with reduced capacity since September 2020. This September, we look forward to welcoming employees back to join us in all our US offices. People will be spending between two to four days a week in the office, depending on their circumstances and work requirements, to allow for teams to connect in person. All of our offices have been organized to accommodate this setup.


As we’re halfway through the year, how has the industry changed since the beginning of the pandemic (Spring 2020)?

This industry has always been innovative, but the level of innovation and creativity was accelerated by the pandemic and the change and growth has been exponential since the spring of 2020. Consumer mind-sets have shifted and they are more open to embracing the use of technology, allowing our industry to push even more boundaries to meet consumers’ needs. The speed of change has been oftentimes overwhelming, but it has also been a catalyst for rapid innovation, incredible creativity, and a change to the way we work.


What predictions do you have for the state of the industry in both the creative and tech space?

As technology develops it paves the way for hybrid working to improve and potentially fill any gaps we are currently feeling. We have launched VXi to enable virtual events and networking in addition to creating live experiences. We’ve seen how empowering this can be for brands who want to host global experiences to reach B2B and B2C audiences, and it draws on the flexible working ethos. People are empowered to choose how they engage through technology, progress, and creative thinking. Through these developments, we will become closer to the consumer and develop our understandings even further to create unforgettable experiences delivered in a way that is right for them, whether it’s virtual or in real life.


With the pandemic restrictions lifting in the US, how do you think the production industry will pivot? Will some of the approaches developed during the pandemic continue, or will things return to the way they were pre-pandemic?

It’s highly unlikely that things will return to the way they were pre-pandemic. While many areas of the production industry took a pause, others quickly shifted to a hybrid model during this past year. As the US continues to monitor restrictions, the production industry will undoubtedly continue to pivot toward safe live and virtual solutions to meet the needs of brands. For sure, we will all leverage the new approaches and key learnings to continue to deliver great experiences.


Donnalyn Smith is President, North America overseeing the success of the agency’s North American offices, people and client portfolios. Previously, she has served as EVP, Regional Director, Managing Director and Group Account Director for several of the agency’s large accounts. She is a founding member of the 4A’s Committee for Best-in-Class Account Management and a member of the 4A’s High School Initiative. In 2017, she drove Momentum’s partnership with the 3% Conference, and in 2018, Donnalyn was honored as a “Trailblazer Mom of the Year” by She Runs It and named to Adweek’s Disruptors list. She is also a founding member of the #TimesUpAdvertising movement. Smith joined Momentum in 1995.


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