Future Advertising Agency Success Requires 3 Competencies


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Advertising Agencies must be competent in Creative, but also Business Partnership and especially Technology. Actually, these three competencies have always propelled ad agencies, but in modern times technology plays a bigger role. Technology is no longer just the means of production, but the means of INVENTION.

Presented on 17 November 2011 to The Internationalist magazine's summit of 2011 Agency Innovators.

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  • First and most importantly, I’d like to thank Deborah Malone for putting together such a great event….With such a tremendous list of fellow Agency Innovators….Thank you everyone for taking a significant chunk out of your professional and personal schedules to be here.I’ll take just a few minutes to talk this point you see up on the screen.Another way to think about it is: “Future Agency Innovation Requires Three Competencies.”
  • These are the three competencies.I’ll describe each one, Creative, Business Partnership, and Technology.(Offering any two of these at one time is fairly common in the marketplace.)(It is vital, however, that we offer all three simultaneously.)
  • Creative, or we could call it “Marketing Communications” is why clients hire agencies. They need someone to help tell their story.Many of you come from Media agencies, and you’re included in this, too. Recently I moderated some roundtables for digital clients and the mobile expert from Allstate proudly told me about his motorcycle insurance program – that came from Starcom.One of my favorite clients ever, Emil Brolick of Wendy’s, once told me, “To make a TV commercial, POP display or brochure, we could hire any idiot off the street.”For a second, I wondered if I should have been taking a hint…..Then the conversation turned to Business Partnership.
  • Emil’s point was that he didn’t want just a creative resource, but a Business Partner who knows why they are creating something.Business Partnership is knowing your client’s business and using that knowledge to grow the business.It’s losing sleep at night so your client doesn’t.It’s constant curiosity about the consumer and the competition.Another term for it might be Business Solutions. All ad agencies bring ad solutions, media agencies bring media solutions, retail agencies bring retail solutions, digital agencies bring digital solutions – but any of us can also bring a business solution.
  • All Digital is Technology, but not all Technology is Digital.No, this is a much more fundamental, DNA kind of thing versus having a digital creative staff, a flash developer or a data jockey.Actually, technology and agencies have a long history together, starting with the printing press, broadcasting and many other things in the past. This wave of technology shouldn’t be any different.But it is. We’re building things now. Technology for agencies is no longer just the means of production, it’s the means of invention.
  • Let’s talk about inventing things.The best of the traditional ad agencies combined Creative and Business Partnership.Two of my favorite stories:When FCB, representing Sunkist oranges, invented a way to drink your breakfast – orange juice.When Leo Burnett, representing Starkist, invented a way to utilize low-quality tuna – Nine Lives cat food.We can be business partners simply by recovering the lost arts of knowing client business data better than anyone else, helping clients understand which products they should advertise and with what message.It’s a lost art but it’s still old school. Isn’t it more exciting if we invent something? Isn’t that really what innovation is?
  • Digital agencies may offer some inspiration because they marry Creative and Technology.I’ve had the pleasure of working with Bob Greenberg. R/GA started out as a high-tech production company and over the years has stayed ahead of the technology and put together a first-class creative department. There are other digital agencies I admire for similar reasons.Many of these agencies have the capability to be Business Partners. They are smart, sophisticated and when technology is baked in to a client’s business, watch out. Those kind of clients are rare, however. In most cases digital agencies don’t get a seat at the table because their digital clients are put in a silo, too.
  • Out of the silo and into the Ivory Tower.On the third leg of this triangle are consultants. Accenture, McKinsey, BCG – they have all invested in technology to bolster what is, in essence, the business of business partnership.Sure, a lot of their technology is all about increasing efficiency. Is that bad? No – the main selling point of technology is that it saves labor, time and money. Tech startups are based on automation and efficiency. Ad agencies are based on increasing billable services.OK, so we don’t have to play the efficiency game. The lesson we can learn, however, is that consultants make technology useful to their clients. It’s not an end unto itself, it’s a way to get to a business solution.
  • It’s my contention that agencies – ad agencies, media agencies, digital agencies, retail agencies – can achieve all three competencies. In fact we have done this in the past.Creative is our vantage point to the consumer. The consumer gives us a rubber-meets-the-road perspective that no one else has. It’s not just about the story we tell, it’s that we understand the audience for our story.Business Partnership is essential because without it we will never figure out what story is most compelling. Remember that movie a couple of years ago, The Invention of Lying? Well, for us it’s The Invention of Truth. Finding that great story that makes the client exciting and relevant.We can’t do it without technology, whether that new technology is the printing press, wireless radio or wireless telephone.
  • The same three requirements that drove agencies in the 20th Century will drive us in the 21st Century.Creative is what we sell but its development must be media-neutral. A creative director at a digital agency once told me that “IMC” stands for “I already made the commercial.” This faults both the copywriter and the media planner.Business Partnership is lost art and old school and we need both now more than ever. The next Sunkist orange juice is likely to come from an agency that brings its clients business solutions.It’s likely that Technology will play a big role in that solution. Ideas and Technology need each other in a much more significant way.
  • Thank you.Great articles worth reading:http://www.fastcompany.com/1761735/cannes-pov-the-evolution-of-the-idea“Code without ideas is just ones and zeroes”“Ideas without execution are just dreams”http://edwardboches.com/what-ad-agencies-could-learn-from-ideohttp://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=how+ad+agencies+should+use+technology&d=5055675064386941&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=ecc352e,a531fd3
  • Future Advertising Agency Success Requires 3 Competencies

    1. 1. Future Agency SuccessRequires Three Competencies @SteveS1 #InnovatorsSummit2011 AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    2. 2. Business PartnershipTechnology Creative AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    3. 3. Business PartnershipTechnology Creative AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    4. 4. Business PartnershipTechnology Creative AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    5. 5. Business PartnershipTechnology Creative AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    6. 6. Business PartnershipTechnology Creative AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    7. 7. Business PartnershipTechnology Creative AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    8. 8. Business PartnershipTechnology Creative AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    9. 9. Business PartnershipTechnology Creative AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    10. 10. The Future• Creative remains foundational but its development must be media-neutral• Business Partnership must return to Business Solutions• Technology isn’t just the means of production, it’s the means of invention• Compensation goes from media-based to labor-based to value-based AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com
    11. 11. Future Agency SuccessRequires Three Competencies @SteveS1 #InnovatorsSummit2011 AdMajoremBlog.Blogspot.com