The agency world as we have known it, with neat divisions between creative and media and public relations, is being torn apart by forces beyond its control. Technological revolution, societal change, intense competition and cost pressures have combined to force change. New models are urgently needed for the agency of the future.
The Toronto Chapter of the American Marketing Association hosted a recent event in Canada with five leading agency thinkers offering up their thoughts on the future of the agency. The speakers had a number of insightful ideas to share, but I took away 5 big ideas from the session.
1. Franke Rodriguez, Partner/CEO Anomaly New York and Toronto, argues we need to rethink the meaning of creative and media. We need to get past traditional notions of media buys and think about how we can connect people and brands. He cites Spotify’s creation of highly localized playlists (like the Squirrel Spotting playlist for Trinity Bellwood’s Park) and Anomaly’s “Red Light” campaign for Budweiser in Canada as examples of how an idea can transcend traditional notions of what is “media” and what is “creative”.
2. Daniel Shearer, EVP and General Manager Cossette Ontario and West, suggests the sole focus for any agency should be “connecting people and brands in meaningful ways”. Don’t think about the media buy or agency structure or the usual client/agency relationship. Think about ways you can connect with customers and consider “the entire customer experience as the brand”, Shearer recommends.
3. Andrew Simon, CCO of Edelman, argues that historically, influence and authority went hand-in-hand. Today, this classic pyramid of influence has been flipped upside down. As a result, “the media landscape is both imploding and exploding” according to Simon. With this upending of the traditional agency role, public relations is no longer relegated to the “kids table” when it comes to deciding how to reach the public.
4. Matt Lewis, President of Momentum Worldwide, suggests we embrace a new way of connecting with clients—a deeper, more interactive relationship where clients and the agency work together as a team. “More than ever, clients want to be involved in creating the end product” he suggests. Involve clients throughout the process, in all phases. If we embrace this model, Matt Lewis suggests, we “don’t need to fear the revolution”, we can “be ready for it”.
5. Alexandra Panousis, Formerly CEO at Starcom MediaVest, warns that “commodity media prices” have turned the business into a “rate game that has hit rock bottom”. She believes the future will be the personalization of media and that this will create a new and deep interdependence between media technology and creativity. The challenge will be “content automation” and that will produce a “desperate need for new skills”.
To learn more about these big ideas, read our whitepaper 5 revolutionary ideas for the agency of the future.