The Ever-Ending Story
Until that day of unity comes, I can continue to polarize and write about "off" vs. "on." Or as the bad guys sometimes say, traditional vs. new.
As an agency that operates at the pan-European level, my shop increasingly comes into contact with new advertisers, new colleagues and new competition every day. What I particularly noticed and what proved to be much better than expected -- in addition to the chance to optimally use our language skills -- was our huge preparedness to share knowledge and experiences with the competition. We all seemed to have concluded that the Spanish, the Swedes, the Irish, the Germans, Italians, Dutch, Japanese, etc., are faced with the same challenges as us, come across the same experiences and drive to the office in the morning with the same business worries.
During one of our recent retreats it appeared that the 24 attendees (creatives and managing directors) were all from former advertising agencies. Therefore, the talk rapidly moved to the good and the bad things that we learned at previous jobs. At the end of these spirited conversations, we had a shopping list of "the 10 key items we should copy from traditional ad agencies, and the things we should do 100 percent differently." I will limit myself to those items that generate healthy envy, and that we therefore will copy and paste like greased lightning.
On the one hand, we had a number of valid financial envies; the cliché that we have to perform twice as hard for half the money is a universal feeling. Therefore, if we want to be paid as much, we have to put lots of work into our hourly rates and paid pitches, tackling customer services in the same way (divine overhead), and no longer give away our strategic communication planning knowledge like cherries on the cake.
On the other hand, there still is a lot to be learned in terms of the sector's image. No more cowboys and Indians stories; all our energy should go into the most attractive presentation of our business, to become just as known and loved (you would almost think that the sector needed an advertising campaign, for crying out loud!) so that interactive agencies can just as well steal good people from advertising agencies as the other way around, which is the trend du jour for that matter.
All this further strengthens our sense that the sector of interactive marketing is gaining in trust and maturity, and that we are moving from the perimeter to the center of the world of communication. Once we get there, fusions, mergers and integrations will take place.