Having been in this business for 20-something (cough cough) years, the cycle of brands consolidating and then de-coupling their media, creative and specialty-marketing services has swung back and forth more times than a center-court spectator at a Wimbledon match. The impact this has on cross-channel marketing — even as the media landscape gets more complicated and automated — is significant.
The holding companies will argue that having one “team” handling end-to-end marketing services drives not only efficiencies but also better work. Independent agencies that have media and creative under one roof will posit that having one overhead to pay for in the fee, plus better agility in go-to-market, provides brands with the advantage they need.
On the flip side, others believe that having a series of best-of-breed shops united by an agency council is the only way to go. These folks suspect that agencies are inherently lazy and entitled and fear that if they put all their eggs in one basket, they will not get the best thinking over time. Let’s make them jump ball for every brief, they reason.
I’ve had the good fortune to work within independents with bundled services, stand-alone specialty digital shops and, at Havas, a holding company that can bring everything together with one “village” team. I’ve also worked with many CMOs along the way that believe bundling is the best way. But which way is right? Does it depend on the spend-levels? The brand? The paranoia level of the CMO?
The advertising trades are full of stories about how big brands have made moves to consolidate their work with one agency or one holding company. In 2014, MediaPost reported that SAP consolidated with Omnicom with its CEO citing “…a compelling end-to-end vision for the next generation of the SAP brand.” Closer to home, DISH Network consolidated a majority of its spend — including digital, digital media and brand creative — with our Havas village.
Publicly, brands say they seek consolidation for a variety of reasons, including:
I believe that the truth is more mission-critical, however, than those sound-byte reasons. There are two primary drivers in today’s marketing economy driving CMOs to consolidate:
The trend du jour for brands with scale, it seems, is finding an agency or holding company to bundle under a common structure. This makes sense for some brands. For others, a specialty model will. My intent is to spawn dialogue around the topic so that we learn from each other about what’s working and what isn’t.What do you think?