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PHD and eatbigfish to reveal common marketing, media behaviours in new book and seminar in Cannes

PHD’s eighth publication ‘Overthrow II – 10 strategies from the new wave of challengers’ explores the part that today’s big themes like technology, data, culture and creativity play for today’s challengers

Twenty years after author Adam Morgan coined the concept of the challenger brand in Eating the Big Fish, global media network PHD has announced it will again be collaborating with the leading expert on the subject in a new publication, due to launch at Cannes Lions on June 19.

Drawing on the insights and experiences of today’s challengers disrupting the status quo, ‘Overthrow II – 10 strategies from the new wave of challengers’ identifies 10 different challenger types including: Real & Human, Feisty Underdog, Local Hero, Next Generation and Dramatic Disruptor. The book follows the previous collaboration between PHD and eatbigfish in 2012 with ‘Overthrow – 10 ways to ten a challenger story’.


The new book carries interviews with some of the freshest and most interesting contemporary examples around, including Oatly, BrewDog, COPA90, Tony’s Chocolonely, Mailchimp and Xiaomi and looks at the strategic principles that each follows as well as the media behaviours they practice and draws conclusions about what these challenger types have in common when it comes to marketing behaviour.

Common to many of these challengers today is a very simple shift in understanding what a challenger is: not a brand that challenges somebody but a brand that challenges something; something they feel needs to change.


Financed by a new type of investor, harnessing emerging structural changes and new ways to build relationships with their consumers, these new challengers have generated an enormous energy and excitement in their marketing and business community.

This new generation of challengers is also the subject of PHD and eatbigfish’s seminar – The Rule Breakers’ Rule Book – on the Debussy Theatre stage on June 20, 10.30-11 am. The co-authors of the book, Malcolm Devoy, PHD EMEA’s chief strategy officer, and Adam Morgan, founder and partner of eatbigfish, will discuss the five commonalities in marketing and media behaviours these challengers seem to use.

Adam Morgan

Adam Morgan, Founder of eatbigfish, said, “Overthrow II explores what it means to be a challenger beyond the superficial ‘David vs Goliath’ cliché; it is a guide to helping marketers find the kind of challenger brand narrative they need to be compelling in an increasingly noisy, crowded and distracted world. ”

Malcolm Devoy

Malcolm Devoy, PHD EMEA’s Chief Strategy Officer said, “These challenger brands are so different in so many ways – different categories, different competitors, different brand characters, and yet they have some important things in common. These commonalities appear to be the ingredients behind challenger brand behaviours and their specific media behaviours that ultimately lead to their extraordinary growth stories.”


Philippa Brown, the incoming CEO of PHD Worldwide added, “It’s great to be partnering with Adam and the team at eatbigfish on PHD’s latest publication. We believe that challenger behaviour is not confined to the new or the small. Brands of all sizes – whatever their category, competition, heritage or personality – can benefit from adopting a challenger mindset to drive more ambitious growth and make the impact they desire.”

‘Overthrow II - 10 strategies from the new wave of challengers’ is also being produced as a limited-edition coffee table book, featuring all the content from the standard book alongside fabulous imagery, further interviews and case studies. There are new interviews from an eclectic mix of brands, including DB Breweries, Universal Standard, Depop, Lemonade and Audi. Case studies range from Monzo to MOIA, from WestJet to Bumble, and from Shake Shack to Who Gives A Crap.

A preview book launch of ‘Overthrow II’ will take place at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on June 19, alongside a poolside breakfast panel from 8.30-10.30am with Adam Morgan, Malcolm Devoy and guest panellists. Attendees will receive a free copy from the first print run of the book. The book will also be available that same day via Amazon and

A challenger mindset has been at the heart of PHD since it was founded in London in 1990 as the first media agency to offer strategic and creative planning. Today, PHD is a challenger brand at scale with over 100 offices in 74 countries, united by a philosophy of Finding a Better Way.

eatbigfish is a strategic brand consultancy whose focus is challenger thinking and behaviour. Its expertise is grounded in The Challenger Project – its study of how challenger brands succeed by doing more with less.

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