Today's agency world

Recently we revisited some early editions of the epic Madmen series. Aside from the more morally questionable aspects of agency life in the 1960’s, it was the innocent simplicity of the industry that really struck us.

Essentially clients developed the products and agencies turned them into brands. Strategy, media buying and creativity were all within the agency domain. Clients simply developed the products, aided by some standard research, and tied up distribution with the retailers.

It was probably never quite as binary as that but generally that’s how the business worked.

It was the natural order of marketing. Everyone knew where they stood.
Marketing was very much a set menu.

Fast forward 50 years and that simple model looks achingly archaic.

Today the set menu is out and agency services are definitely a la carte.

Agencies have adapted to the differing needs of clients. It’s now possible to source every type of specialist support, from standard media planning and buying, creative, strategy, production, content management, social, digital – pretty well everything a client would ever need. And you can add to that the assorted models of in-house and out-of-house services too.
Of course the advance of digital in all its forms has completely changed the consumer landscape and led to the growth of a plethora of ‘specialists’ offering a range of services; Independent creative shops continue to be born, grow, sell out and get re-born.
Moreover numerous hybrid models have materialised from standard full service agencies to internal agencies set up specifically to service individual clients and brands.
(An interesting and informative analysis of agency models is available from thenetworkone*).

The incessant drive to tighten costs, execute work more quickly and slickly, create content, offer greater transparency, improve accountability and reduce headcount and overhead, coupled with the unstoppable tsunami of technology, have combined to make the ingredients of the marketing menu far more complex.

There is no panacea of perfection, no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and the relationship between clients and agencies continues to evolve.

But the one key ingredient is people and, more precisely, people’s attitudes. Whether they sit in or out of house; whether they develop awesome algorithms or create brain- stunning content it’s the applied creativity and can – do attitude of people that continues to matter the most.

At Network people have always been our key differentiator. We’ve built the business on values that are straight talking, transparent and open and honest and our team reflect that. A sense of humour helps too.

And it’s also why we still enjoy a great track record for client longevity.

* thenetworkone is a consultancy not connected to our Network in any way, although we like each other and share many common values

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