Agency, disrupt thyself!!
This column first appeared in Strategy Magazine, Canada, September 28, 2017.
If CES is about getting your head around the latest technology, and Cannes is about the awards and the parties, Ad Week New York is about hustle: the unapologetic sales pitch from agencies, advertisers,
platforms and technology. Agencies of every stripe and specialism are here, and most of them are
presenting. The agency world is very fond of self-reflection, but this year it
seems to have hit a fever pitch. Here’s just a selection of seminar titles from
Monday alone: “Self-Disrupt: Creating the Next Agency Model”; “Leadership and
the Agency of the Future”; “Advertising Needs a Rebrand”; and my favourite, “Is the Agency of the Future
Still an Agency?”
It’s self-evident that the agency world is feeling like it’s about to be disrupted – it’s becoming increasingly difficult to dispense that advice to clients and not see the warning signs yourself. The forces of change are manifold and accelerating: AI, machine learning, ad fraud, clients taking agencies in-house, the explosion and implosion of adtech, martech, fintech, three quarters of digital dollars being spent with two platforms, AR, VR, VCs...but maybe it’s the simple fact that consultancies are now some of the largest agencies in the world. Headwinds indeed.
There’s anxiety in the air. That’s probably a good thing, because it’s sorting agencies out into those who can think new school, and those who are stuck in the old thinking.
The marks of old thinking are easy to spot. They’re the speakers who describe opposites that aren’t, like claiming analytics and creativity can’t co-exist in the same agency system. There are the agencies that describe themselves as “digital first” as a point of pride. Then there are those who count sitting in the client’s office as a mark of integration. I have seriously contemplated issuing fines for anyone who still uses the phrase “consumer in control”. I could have made some serious coin.
New school agencies, however, are fascinating to watch – and none of their approaches are the same:
Accenture: scaling the creative class to large corporates
I’ve been watching Accenture for a while – indeed, who hasn’t? Jeannine Falcone from Accenture Interactive outlined their strategy very clearly: Accenture has alwa