Roadmap to a Connected Agency

Mary Beth Kemp

In between long weekends and vacations, I'm kicking off work on a roadmap for change for agencies and advertisers.  In it, I'll explore the following questions (and probably many more). 

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Can Cannes Align to the Changes Agencies Need?

Mary Beth Kemp

The French advertising trade press this week proclaims an end to frontiers and the blurring of the lines between categories - I read media - following the close of the Cannes Festival on the 21st. 

The Cannes Festival is about ideas, which should vibrate beyond the concrete fact of one media.  The problem is, the creative and the container are often closely matched.  It’s often the juxtaposition of the two which make the magic happen.  For example, the HBO ‘Voyeur’ campaign was clearly an idea working its delight in a specific media - in this case, outdoor. 

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Agencies: the nature of creative is changing

Mary Beth Kemp

I’ve just finished reading “A Whole New Mind - Why right-brainers will rule the future”.  In it, Daniel Pink explores the growing importance of storytelling, meaning, empathy, and concept.  Leaders will need to see the big picture and connect the ‘relationships between relationships’.  So, inventors and creative types are the future. 

Great news for the art student that I was and for those many hoping for a Lion at the Cannes Festival this week. 

Isn’t the nature of creative changing?

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The New Agency Network

Mary Beth Kemp

The most future-friendly agency network is the networked agency.  Perhaps this network could be called a soft network.  It depicts a web of agencies who want to work (well) together, each bringing their expertise to a client or group of clients….or to a consumer community. 

You’ll notice I didn’t say they all needed to be in the same group or belong to the same holding company.  Like siblings, having the same parent doesn’t guarantee that the agencies get along or that they work well together. 

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What IP for Agencies

Mary Beth Kemp

Most - vocal - readers agree that ad industry value is heading south: both overall or if one zooms on an individual agency (thanks to hammerandtong for his comparison of WPP’s and aQuantive’s market value). 

The agency view is great context, but at some point, I would still like to have a look at the history of the industry and compare the part of the pie agencies have gotten.  However, my friends at the DataCenter at Ad Age have assured me that would be extremely difficult, given the different ways of counting revenue over the years.  Any ideas welcome.

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Ad Industry Value: Up or Down?

Mary Beth Kemp


Last week, while France, I, and indeed nearly the rest of Europe enjoyed long, bank holiday weekends, Ad Age heralded digital as the savior of agencies in their 64th Annual Report.   Sure, digital is a great ride.  And now, with marketing services, drives up to half of the billings in the top 4 groups.


But has digital really been as good as all that for agencies’ business?

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Marketing's on the road

Mary Beth Kemp

I had to cross Paris this morning to speak at a conference.  And in the soft spring weather, I was struck by the number of people on bikes.  It’s nowhere near Amsterdam, but since I only go through the center of Paris very occasionally before 9 in the morning, I noticed the change. 

Many of the cycling commuters were on Paris’ new Vélibe, the essentially free bikes funded as an exchange for the right to an outdoor advertising concession.  No, there aren’t screens on the bikes, nor advertising on the stands where the bikes are rented.  At least, not yet.

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The Conflict of Interest of Change

Mary Beth Kemp

Both Agencies and clients have asked who and what type of agency will best drive the evolution to a more integrated and ‘connected’ agency.

I recently heard much frustration from one large advertiser who sees his primary agency partner buying - quite largely - into digital, mobile…yet the agency still delivers ad plans to his marketing team which are essentially 100% television-based. A strategic contradiction that hinders his company’s evolution, “don't they understand that they aren’t helping me move to digital?”

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Media Agencies' Content Plays seem One-sided

Media agencies have been moving aggressively into building branded content offers.  The lastest:  WPP’s Mindshare announced a reorganization last week, including the creation of a unit focused on making content. 

Integrating content and marketing messages certainly allows advertisers to sneak under the radar screen of ad-fleeing consumers; and reinforces the value exchange of entertainment for attention. 

But in the rush to create new advertising occasions, the most important piece is missing:  what about the consumer? 

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Dell to Agencies: "People are most important"

When I spoke with Casey Jones at our marketing forum, he cited WPP’s ability to recruit as the deciding factor in his choice.  Building - and keeping - the right team on his business is his priority. 

Casey even went so far as to say “What’s important is the talent of your team, not the brand of your agency.”

How many of you advertisers agree? 

Like the proverbial shoemaker and his kids, agencies seem to miss on their own professional advice:  helping their clients experience the value of their brands.  The impact of acquisitions, extensions, staff turnover, the tendency towards ‘juniorizing’agency teams…?

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