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Our thoughts on the agency model for the year ahead…

12th January 2018

 
We’ve been an independent agency for the past 30 years now, a proud milestone that we celebrated at the end of last year. So yeah, we’ve seen plenty of change.
 
But in the last few years is where we’ve seen the most, and the fastest.
 
Now, while this post isn’t going to dive deep into all the intricacies of the agency model, and the ways in which these could evolve. Others are better placed to do this – and have done. This article for example, is particularly great – giving a very detailed view on the ‘
Next-generation operating models for marketing agencies’. It’s well worth a read, a great piece of insightful content.
 
But stick with us for now. This won’t be quite as heavy a read as the article we just pointed you in the direction of. Instead, we’re going to briefly touch upon a couple of ‘macro’ trends that we feel are going to have the greatest influence on shaping the agency of the future. So much so in fact, that they’re trends that we’ve already reacted to, by setting up a new agency (NS&R) which has a unique model in place. But more about our new agency offering a little later on.
 
To the trends…
 
 

1. Simplification

 
Arguably, it’s P&G who got the ball properly rolling here. Specifically, Marc Pritchard – P&G’s Chief Brand Officer.
 

Frankly, your complexity should not be our problem, so we want you to make that complexity invisible.

 
This view saw P&G begin their cull of agencies. To be fair, they had thousands on their books, so it made business sense.
 
Others then took note of P&G. And so it led to somewhat of a movement. Simply, brands/marketers want to use fewer agencies, and to simplify agency processes.
 
The reason was because agency structures had become too siloed. Something we’ve experienced first hand. For example, creative would be separate from digital, which made integration harder than it needed to be. The best way of working, to ultimately produce the best work, comes when there is a more joined-up approach. And now with digital so pervasive, it shouldn’t be seen as something separate – it should be fused together with everything.
 
Many, therefore are championing the use of a single agency, to handle all their marketing needs.
 
Granted, in the face of an ever-fragmenting media landscape, these single agencies would need to be very much multi-disciplinary. And so whom they partner with for specialised skills would be crucial.
 
But what this all-encompassing agency would do, is what Marc Prichard said, make the complexity of working with agencies, invisible.
 
 
 

2. A proper partner

 
It’s no secret that we’re big advocates of clients bringing creative capabilities in-house. Mainly, and unsurprisingly, that’s because we run in-house teams for clients. And the new agency model (NS&R) that we mentioned earlier operates in such a way, but on a global scale. But again, more on that model later.
 
Perhaps it’s best for us to explain how we ended up getting into the in-house game. This will also better highlight the second trend we’re bringing you – that of the future agency being a proper partner.
 
To cut a long story short: we recognised how one of our largest clients was changing their business in relation to their approach to design. It became clear that they wanted to bring design capabilities in-house. Now, while some agencies might see this as a problem, almost trying their best to persuade them to avoid doing so.
 
We took a different approach.
 
We saw it as our job to help them. Not to hinder. We’re not an agency to our clients, we’re a partner. And so we adapt and change our offering to what a client wants.
 
The fact is, that it’s easy for agencies in jazzy presentation decks to say ‘see us as a partner’ – but then to not act as a partner when it really matters.
 
Therefore, the agency model needs to be one that properly partners with the client – recognising when and how to change. And so it’s easy to see how this trend can fuel the previous one we mentioned – simplification. As having one agency, as a partner – offers huge benefits to the client.
 
And that leads us nicely into finally introducing our new agency offering…
 
NS&R
 
Simply, like we said, it was created by recognising the two ‘macro’ trends we’ve just introduced.
 
A client wanted a global, streamlined, simplified solution to their creative needs. And of course acting as a proper partner would, we made this happen.
 
We put in place creative, consultancy capabilities in local areas where the client required. And then built a production facility in Chennai (India), again to achieve the cost efficiencies our client desired.
 
For our client this has given them the best of both worlds. They get world-class creative thinking at a local level – so communications are always inline with the culture in which they live. Yet, bringing communications and materials to life can be achieved cost effectively by a dedicated production team.
 
This model allows us to produce results-driven creative projects: strategically, conceptually and cost effectively.
 
Enough of the sell. But if you do want to talk about how our new offering could work for you, then please drop us a line.
 
You can find out more about NS&R, here.
 
 

Conclusion

 
We wont hold you for too much longer. All that needs to be said now, is while the topic of the ‘agency model of the future’ is a complicated one, and provokes much discussion. And although our focus here has been on creative/design agencies – we hope it has provided you with some food for thought.
 
For us, it’s simple. Agencies need to adapt to clients needs. Like we’ve shown, it’s what we’ve made sure we’ve always done. And 30 years later, it must be working, right?
 
Until next time…
 
Rima
 
 

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