The future is bright, the future is messy

In theory, dictatorships make a lot of sense.

As governance models go, they offer efficiency, continuity and effective task completion. Dictators get things done. Democracy wastes time and money. It clunks along, swaying left and right and back to the middle. There are too many voices, too many agendas, too many disparate perspectives which all need to be accommodated. Yet we choose this messy way of governing our society. Because we recognize the importance of all those viewpoints in creating the type of world we want to live in. What we lose in simplicity we gain in wisdom.

In theory, going back to the full-service creative agency also makes a lot of sense.

One brand guardian who can implement a clear and consistent strategy. One team without overlapping roles. One contact for the client who is clear on the brief and can take responsibility for campaign success.

In modern agency land, many of us find ourselves working on client business with a wide roster of other agencies. And it’s very messy. There are too many voices, too many competing agendas and too many disparate perspectives. We know that integration is essential, that we need to meet and collaborate – but often there isn’t the physical space for us to sit around the same boardroom table together.

Add into this heated mix a very real competition. Each agency partner in today’s scenario has a business reality. Their survival hinges on the client shepherding a portion of the marketing budget in their direction. Cooperation is essential, as long as it’s not at the expense of your company. In a full service model, people may have different specialties, but when it comes down to it, they’re all playing for the same team. In theory, you should get the best of both worlds with full-service – specialist expertise, coordinated by a central leader.

In practice, the best work is emerging from much messier setups. And my money is on a marketing future, which will continue to be messy.

Just like the brand world, which is no longer tightly created and controlled. Or the content world, where the old gatekeepers have been turned upside down by the Internet. The advertising industry finds itself in circumstances, which require innovation, specialization and an openness to adapt.

And if this is the case, we need to start thinking practically about how it’s all going to work. We need answers to these questions:
1. How can marketers develop a sense of shared purpose and vision across a wide spectrum of agency partners?
2. How can marketers mine all the talent and ideas from their agencies, and ensure they’re tapping into the best thinking each agency has to offer?
3. And most crucially, how can we create a remuneration structure, which makes it advantageous for agencies to cooperate rather than compete?

  1. June 9th, 2012

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