Digital Agencies at ARF re:think

The second panel of the day at ARF's re:think conference was "The
Agency of the Future" including R/GA, Avenue A|Razorfish, Nitro and

Continuing on the one-of-these-outfits-is-not-like-the-other theme,
Nick Law, Chief Creative Officer from R/GA shows up in short sleeve
shirt, jeans, and swooshes in stark contrast to other panelists in
standard business casual.  Interactive is the new traditional and its
agency executives appear to have followed suit, so to speak.

Get it?

Followed suit?

Ok moving on, Rance Crain of Ad Age
did a nice job of moderating and stirring up the pot.  He suggested an
alternative title for his panel as well:  "Digital:  Just Another
Silo?"  BTW, I'm guessing he's not a big fan of subservient chicken,

Torrence Boone of Digitas
described his company as a "full service agency" with roots in direct
marketing and capabilities today in integrated and digital marketing.
Which is a good thing because I'm planning a Forrester Wave
on integrated agencies later this summer.  Torrance defined a big idea
as a filter on what to do or what not to do.  It's built out of
consumer insight, media context, and consumption patterns, along with a
good dose of gut and intuition.

Steve Marrs of Nitro spoke
about his company's small size and global reach.  They have three main
offices, in London, New York, and Shanghai (the largest).  Shanghai as
largest is intriguing (unless I heard wrong).  Steve said that his
agency approaches work by separating strategy from advertising - the
way it used to be.  Nitro defines a big idea in part as something that
drives business results.  Note to Nitro:  a good place to start would
be SEO for "nitro."

Clark Kokich of Avenue A|Razorfish
described his company as a "full service interactive advertising
agency."  He mentioned that he's been in the agency game for a long
time and left his first stint because of a feeling that what matters to
client businesses happens inside the core of their firm - untouched by
agency projects.  He brought this focus back to AARF to focus on what's
"crucial to the client's business."  Clark also mentioned that his
agency's purpose is to drive business results, because "you can't build
a brand through advertising." 

Nick Law of R/GA showed how the "Agency of the Digital Age" is helping one client - Nike - beyond advertising.  Their work on Nike+
gets deep into product as well as promotion - these being "wearable,
networked computing devices."  Not much more to say, because Nick
showed how R/GA is doing it.

These agencies are certainly well-positioned for the future,
especially given the way consumer behavior is shifting to digital.
However, as interactive agencies compete for strategy work, they are
going to run into formidable competition - traditional management
consultancies.  We've been here before and last time the old guns won.
This time around...?


re: Digital Agencies at ARF re:think

I could not help responding to this post having just written an article in my own website about the need for advertising agencies to transform themselves to become more accountable. In that article I wrote..."Traditionally advertising and direct marketing agencies carried out assignments with the belief that their job is to merely create new and dramatic ideas to capture the market’s imagination. They pitch their ideas hard, promising that these will work better. The ultimate risk of accepting these ideas lay primarily with the client.As clients began to realize the need to make agencies more accountable, greater emphasis were placed on evaluating the agency’s promises resulting in the increasing number agency reviews that we are witnessing today. Frequent agency reviews is certainly not a healthy approach. Preparation for review meetings are costly both for the client and agency. The absence of a longer term strategic partnership in brand and customer relationship building could also be a detriment.A new model of client agency accountability is required …one where the creative agency’s accountability lies not only in helping clients create dramatic and high impact ideas for change but managing the risks that comes with it. Agencies should be able to objectively demonstrate to clients the possible impact of their proposals. The risks and opportunities need to be objectively and professionally analyzed, methods of risk reduction whether through testing, research, etc thoroughly explored and the ultimate decision taken jointly between the agency and client."