Corcoran's session, "The Role of Agencies in the Adaptive Era," centered on the future of agency relationships, particularly digital agencies, in a world where people consume multiple media, trust one another more than they do marketers, connect through social media and let consumers determine what is relevant.
The session, which referred to Forrester's March 2010 "The Future of Agency Relationship" report, actually went further into an evaluation of the relevancy of today's "Big 5" agency model of traditional advertising agencies, direct marketing agencies, media planning agencies, interactive agencies and communications / PR agencies.
The takeaway: None of these five dominant agency types is appropriate for this new era that requires agencies to artfully combine branding, communications, channel planning and execution, creative, technology and analytics. Instead, a new holistic agency model, based on holistic 360-degree consumer strategies, instead of the old "push" strategies of the 20th century, must ensue.
Looking at this situation and based on Forrester's insights, I infer that two trends will follow. With so many choices (as agencies continue to compete with each other), larger marketers will move away from traditional agency of record relationships to working with multiple agencies, many of which will have stand-out capabilities either in branding, communications, channel planning, creative, technology or analytics.
These agencies will be given opportunities to work across disciplines and bring fresh thinking to the old Big 5 mindsets. Mid- to smaller-sized marketers will continue to consolidate their work with new agencies of record that will "re-bundle" media, branding, creative, technology, analytics and PR to be relevant in this adaptive era.
New specialties will be organized around industry and vertical expertise, as opposed to capabilities. The big question for Big 5 agency types will be whether to "double-down" and focus on a specialist role or re-bundle to pursue lead agency roles.
What does all this mean for Hispanic marketing agencies that are also organized around the same Big 5 model? Are there other dynamics at work, particularly vis-à-vis the relationship between traditional agencies and Hispanic agencies?
Hispanic agencies will not be immune to the effects of this dramatic realignment of the agency model and industry. However, the end results and decisions facing Hispanic shops will be different. At the top the marketer food chain, larger marketers will continue the trend we saw with Home Depot's recent decision to move its Hispanic advertising duties from a specialist shop to the company's general market agency.
As they move away from AOR commitments in the general market, these large marketers will likely give non-Hispanic agencies opportunities to develop Hispanic programs across all five disciplines. It won't be strange to see general market interactive agencies executing Hispanic programs!
Looking at mid-sized to smaller marketers, the demand for "re-bundling" will also likely include multicultural market capabilities. In a world where marketing is more pull-oriented, it's difficult to imagine marketers separating multicultural and general market programs.
The common thread in both of these market segments will be that Hispanic agencies need to expand beyond Hispanic capabilities to include other audiences as well as the general market to be relevant. While that decision won't be optional, they will also have to decide whether they going to be specialists or lead agencies in the new "rebundled" multicultural agency world.