It needs creative collaborations on a whole new level.
The word ‘agency’ stimulates a lot of thought and opinions amongst the people of the creative industry. Truth be told, most of which is highly negative. Owing to the vast majority of the corporates (‘clients’ as we call them), this word has established creative, advertising/marketing firms as more of a provider to the corporates than a partner.
This relationship dynamic is fast turning obsolete, in the current and future scheme of things. Marketing has exponentially been redefined in it’s rules, it’s media and most importantly, it’s consumers.
At your service
This servile relationship between a client and an agency, established almost as a norm across the years, has created an disparate environment. It induces egos, conflict and a general mental disconnect between all teams involved. The irony is that a brand’s communication should involve anything but.
I’m not saying this model is a complete failure, there are agencies and clients doing amazing work together under serious constraints. However, in the bigger picture, this structure has resulted in an industry that’s infamous for overworked, unsatisfied and underpaid employees working for agencies constantly haggling over budgets and fees, and an insane number of ‘great ideas that never made it’. All for a campaign that sounds witty and won an award. A high price to pay for returns that may not matter as much in today’s world.
This article, however, isn’t about bad mouthing agencies (or clients), it’s instead focussed on the next chapter of the creative industry, and a new breed of organisations that aim to change the game from the bottom up. The many mistakes spawned by the agency culture hasn’t gone unnoticed, and the many advantages that grew out of it haven’t been forgotten either. Taking this knowledge forward, creative individuals have come together across the world and formed collectives that stand for the things that have always mattered in marketing — creative work, designed for the customers. Certain principles drive this new age organisation:
An equal partnership
Creativity is not a service that can be delivered from one party to another, it’s the outcome of various minds and perspectives coming together, hashing it out to find the most effective solution for the end user. Said solution is never achieved when the client and creative firm are constantly at odds about their work over the other. The client feels they know their brand, they know what they want, and most importantly, they’re the ones paying. The creative firm feels they know their art, and how to best execute it, which is why they should have greater control over the outcome.
This modern breed of companies however, aims to establish a common ground between the two approaches by producing work through perfect synergy between the creatives and the clients. Having an unabridged view of the end result (in terms of the greater good of the brand) and leveraging everyone’s strengths to achieve it -, this is what helps bring creative, impactful work to fruition.
The core of any marketing effort is creativity. In the standard marketing team roster, every individual involved is essentially facilitating the execution of the creative work, made by the copywriter, or designer. Traditionally speaking, the onus of creativity falls onto these individuals. But the media has changed, and with it, so has the definition of creativity. It no longer just involves writing a great copy or making a great design, it has expanded to involve the creativity of ‘media’.
In the world of the Internet, brands have an exponentially increased number of media forms to present their content through -, and it’s not as binary as TV, print or radio anymore. This dynamic platform is constantly evolving to create new ways of presenting content to it’s insatiable audience with an alarmingly short attention span. Unlike old school media, there is no one-size-fits-all formula which means highly tailored content, at insane frequencies for a very well specified audience. This effort, while seeming mechanical in nature, is actually creative. It’s not just about the right line at the right place. Agencies are experimenting with dynamic media: We see Snapchat giving access to media-rich, instant communication to users. AI Chatbots are communicating in real-time with customers, or even interactive mobile ads as seen on Facebook Canvas. This essentially reverses the traditional order of making the content and then promoting it on all media, to finding the right media, and then creating content specifically for the same.
The point of this article isn’t to make a futile declaration of war against agencies, nor is it a stance to form a new colloquial term that ‘becomes viral’. It’s to help marketers realise that the rules of the game have changed, and so should you. We, at PracticeNext have seen these changes, their impact and the importance of adapting to the future, perhaps that’s why we decided to write this Article.
For the clients reading this, you need to evaluate (or re-evaluate) the way you do marketing, and probably review yourself along with your incumbent agency.