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The agency of the future, Part I

The agency of the future, Part I

The pace of change in the industry has become so fast it’s hard to know what’s next. Communicate asks regional marketers to gaze into their crystal balls, Part I.

June 7, 2009 8:53 by

Children of the evolution. “I once created a presentation where I attached a picture of the advertising agency of the future,” says Ronald Howes, regional managing director for the GCC at Memac Ogilvy & Mather. “It was a burnt out, gutted room. That is the advertising agency in the future, if it doesn’t embrace digital, and if it doesn’t embrace a true 360 offering.”

With digital at the core of the agency of the future, Howes also says that this agency is one that will necessarily be more attentive to client and consumer needs, be flexible, and act fast enough to keep up with the pace of change.

Laura Desmond, global CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), spoke on the subject of the agency of the future at the 2009 Dubai Lynx. “It’s about evolution, not revolution,” she said. And her colleagues at SMG in Dubai are advocating the same strategy.

“You can use Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest and evolution to look at what the agency of the future needs to do to survive,” says Mark Hamilton, integrated planning director for the MENA region at SMG Dubai. “It’s not the strongest of species, nor the most intelligent, but it’s the one that’s most adaptable to change that will survive. Be that from a consumer standpoint, from a client need standpoint, or be that from a media platform standpoint.”

And for adaptability to occur and evolution to thrive, it seems right now that integration may be key. Once upon a time, agencies broke off into different companies, with independent media companies, digital agencies, public relations firms, and creative agencies mushrooming all over the industry. Specialisation became the key, and clients had a plethora of companies to choose from to solve their marketing problems in any given area.

Today Jaikumar Menon, vice president of MCN Media in Dubai, says narrowly defined functional boundaries have become the biggest problem with agencies. “The most important thing for the agency of the future is to get disciplines to work together,” he says. “We have come so far down the line in terms of separation, that not everyone will suddenly come back together under one roof overnight. But it can happen at a practical level.”

First seen in Communicate magazine.

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