Last week, I caught a brief AdWeek article entitled “Survey predicts bleak future for agencies - go digital or die.” Of course, being an owner of a new agency, I had to see what fresh new insights were being made available by the industry’s best and brightest.
I was disappointed, but not surprised. What I found, of course, was more of the same dire and bleak prognostications: some going so far as to say that that no agency will be left standing five years from now unless they are a pure play digital shop. This is coming from leaders of some of the biggest names in the agency business, which should make you stop and think about these statements. I happen to think this is BS.
Please don’t get me wrong: digital has gone from the last mile to the lead dog in the communication world without question. And there are some incredibly strong pure-play digital agencies – in fact, we just spent three days embedded in our client’s business with one of the best. They are great, and the digital solution they provide will be awesome, but even if you ask them, “pure digital” is an incomplete solution. A digital solution devoid of human insight and an idea is little more than technology in search of a need. And, interestingly, our category-leading global technology client believes that the best solution, digital or other, needs a provocative, emotive brand idea to truly connect with the audiences they serve. I agree.
Going deeper, what the study also points out is further evidence that a traditional, one-stop-shop model is not cutting it anymore for marketers. Specialists, not generalists, are the productive partners that brands need today. Without question, everyone on the team needs to be anchored in a common insight and idea.
The article should have been titled something like “Know what you’re great at and use it to add value to your clients’ businesses, or die.” Too many agencies have felt and succumbed to the pressure to be all things to all clients, only to find that their value becomes diluted and so does their business model.
The simple truth is that marketers are very comfortable with hybrid teams at the table – as long as it’s the right talent, it’s a productive team and it’s transparent. The creative companies that offer this to their clients will press on across every technology shift because they are focused on what’s best for their client first, agency second.