There’s always a lot of talk at Advertising Week NY about the agency of the future -- which can be challenging because, well, nobody can really predict the future. This year is no different, with several sessions dedicated to the topic.
One of those sessions today produced this insight: You can't talk about the agency of the future without talking about the client of the future.
Allison Sabol, global talent director, Anomaly; Sean Reardon CEO, Zenith USA, Moxie, and MRY and Sarah Hofstetter, CEO 360i, joined the session’s moderator -- Orangetheory Fitness's Kevin Keith -- to explore what clients will need from their agencies moving forward.
And conversely, how agencies need to be leading their clients and their own organizations.
Today's clients are rewriting traditional ad agency partnerships by bypassing agencies entirely, transitioning some work in-house, or adding their own team to external agency projects.
It’s an “indictment” of the industry model, says Reardon. “If we were taking care of clients, they wouldn't seek other alternatives, he says. “We need to react with haste by expanding our services and options.”
"The canvas of creativity” is no longer a banner ad, says Reardon.
Anomaly was set up from the start with a non-traditional model. As such, the agency has an in-house innovative practice to solve problems with packaging and design. It works with Hershey, for instance, on product development. We also "dabble with IP," says Sabol.
More recently, Anomaly is embedding with a tech client where its team takes briefs directly and works alongside their clients. "I love it as an experiment," says Sabol. "Even if it is a failure, we can still learn from it."
The panelists seemed to agree that as relationships evolve, a key factor is how “progressive” or not a client is. "Where is their mindset and where are they going?" says Hofstetter. "What kind of culture do you have?
Agencies also need to rework their internal cultures to recognize the evolving workplace. Anomaly understands that "some people don't want full-time gigs," says Sabol, adding: "We try to support that." The agency has a science-fiction writer who is also a communication strategist. And Anomaly hired an artist who was previously on the client side of the business.
"We are looking at how we can tap into this great talent without losing them to other career paths," says Sabol.