Ad Agencies Are Losing Their Balls To PR Shops: Will They Get Sliced by Weber's 'Sawmill'?

Running an advertising agency these days is like partaking in a game of old school dodgeball, except without any balls because the other team has them all. Yeah, there's a double entendre there -- and yeah, agencies are getting other people's balls thrown in their face on a daily basis, it seems. The latest salvo comes from Weber Shandwick advocacy division, Sawyer Miller, which just rebranded to become SawMill, a full-service agency focused on paid media. This follows similar moves from Edelman and FleishmanHillard. Of the move, Weber Shandwick President Gail Heimann said: "More than ever we're seeing a blurring of the lines and clearly the ownership between paid, owned and earned. Ultimately creative shapes the campaign and we need that hardcore expertise in all of those places, and to be able to attract and nurture the kind of talent that makes us not a PR agency doing advertising but gives us a full-blown competitive integrated offering in the paid space." Heimann might want to reconsider the agency's name though, as it sounds a whole lot like Chop Shop.

Capturing what has become a bone of contention between agency trading desks and their clients, Xaxis EMEA CEO Caspar Schlickum, speaking at MediaTel's Automated Trading Debate, said: "We consider ourselves to be an audience business. We use data, technology, inventory and our people to create audiences that we sell to our clients for a price at which they agree. We are extremely transparent about how our model works and we spend a lot of time explaining that to clients. But what we're very clear about is that we don't disclose the cost of all of our materials." Disagreeing with Schlickum, Longhurst Communications Founder Paul Longhurst said: "If you are in a situation where you are actively marking up inventory, you should say so. Clients should have access to the costs of everything so they can make an informed decision about whether money is getting to the media owner or whether it is being spent in the middle. Clients should know if they're spending more on the technology and data." On which side of this debate do you sit? Does this make anyone long for the days of 15% commission?

Not that we haven't heard every bit of this advice before, but here's another go at it from Fang Digital CEO Jeff Ferguson. In a piece for iMedia Connection, Ferguson looks ahead five years and paints us a picture of what an ad agency will look like in 2020. What does he wish for? Less bureaucracy, no more RFPs, no more briefs, more transparency, less showmanship, less posturing, no more over complicating things just to make them sound more important than they really are, stop flouting about your fancy new metrics and calling people stupid because they don't understand them, less time spent with clients who rely on metrics that don't matter just because their year-end bonuses rely on those metrics and, once and for all, the full retirement of such terms as expert, guru, rock star, ninja and rocket scientist. Hmm. Sounds pretty good to me.

JWT New York has appointed Adam Kerj its new chief creative officer. Kerj, 45, joins from 360i, where he served as that agency's Chief Creative Officer. During his time as 360i’s creative leader, he helped the agency earn kudos from Advertising Age, Adweek, MediaPost and Mashable and in 2014 getting it recognized as one of advertising’s most innovative companies according to Fast Company and Creativity. He brings over 20 years of experience working with brands like P&G, Toyota and Oreo. In his new role, Kerj will report to Matt Eastwood, worldwide chief creative officer, and will be tasked with improving creativity for the New York office and its accounts which include Macy’s, Johnson & Johnson, Puma, Vonage and Royal Caribbean, among others. He will join the agency in early 2015.



Next story loading loading..