Agency Of The Future

McDonald's decision to consolidate its creative and media accounts with Omnicom Group helped spark chatter about "the agency of the future." During a panel session at Advertising Week, Publicis' Andrew Bruce, Bav Consulting's John Gerzema, DDB Chicago's Paul Gunning and Oracle Marketing Cloud's Vik Kathuria joined PwC Strategy&'s Chris Lederer to discuss what agencies will look like in the future.

And are we beginning to see it?

Clients are driving this evolution. McDonald's RFP specifically sought an agency of the future, says Gunning. The process Omnicom went through in order to land this business was divided into four buckets. First, a consolidation of services; two, access to data; three, eliminating silos.

"The client was adamant about getting rid of silos, says Gunning. Lastly, transparency, which is a two-way street, he says. "They have to be open as well." He adds that McDonald's is a custom job. The agency isn't delivering the same services it is for the restaurant chain to all of its clients.



(That may be a good thing, since another panel discussed the terms Omnicom agreed to in order to win this account. The agency is doing it all on margin for the first year, they say, while still making money on overhead and hours for staff. Therefore, there will be money coming in that offsets revenue. Books may say that they didn't make anything, but there is still a lot of money flowing through, they say.)

Another aspect of the evolving agency is that you can't take away dilution of services into one thing. "We have to create a way to come together," say panelists. You still need to stay experts, like leaders in social media, yet acquire the necessary skills across all of categories, as well.

"What value do we provide?" asks Kathuria. "Agency organizations are built on needs." Unfortunately, today's agencies aren't as adapt at real-time marketing. "You want to be that platform that delivers everything.

Publicis is working hard to be that everything, says Bruce. The holding company's agencies are working together and its data cross-references its strategies to base everything around the client. However, these are solely internal matters. Publicis wants to make its "complexity invisible" in order to deliver seamless services to clients.

Bav Consulting's Gerzema acknowledges that the workday is likely to look a lot different. Next summer will be the first group of Gen Z entering the talent pool as interns. "The way they are working is much different."

DDB under Wendy Clark will have its entire team complete unconscious bias training by the end of the year, says Gunning.

People also value time more than money.

Some 72% would work for less money for a better culture, says Gerzema. "If you focus on culture and the outside, that's going to radiate outward to better work," he says. "The best brands have the most responsible companies."

There are external issues facing future agencies. Kathuria believes the real focus will be compensation. He believes payments tied directly to sales will eliminate the relentless focus on ROI and key performance indicators. How a campaign ties directly to actual sales. Then these extraneous debates about transparency and viewability will go away as long as you are talking results, he says.

One challenge remains the here-today, gone-tomorrow occurrence for many start-ups and agencies. "Last thing you want is McDonald's working with someone who runs out of money," says Kathuria. Oracle, for instance, runs into problems with smaller shops seeking its services when "90 out of 100 run out of money or get bought out."

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