The merger between Draft and FCB is the first marriage between a large-scale direct and a traditional agency, but it won't be the last. "Traditional brand marketers are realizing that being data-savvy and analytical is an inevitable trend," says Alan Kuritsky, chief marketing officer of the Direct Marketing Association. "There is no question that this is the model of the future."
But don't expect the bandwagon to move too quickly. "Every agency talks about integration," says Bill Duggan, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers. "But it's still hard to do. There are blogging agencies, multicultural agencies, social networking agencies. Every time there's a new media option, there's a new agency. This has created challenges."
Peter Kim, senior analyst at Forrester Research, doesn't necessarily think we'll see other agencies following DraftFCB's lead. "I don't think every creative agency will go out and buy a direct agency, or vice versa. I think there will be a middle approach, with agencies saying, 'Let's develop this stuff on our own.'"
David Sable, vice chairman and chief operating officer of Wunderman, agrees. "Clients want the best work, and they will choose the agency or agencies they think give them the best work," he says. "I don't think integration means you have to come with a one-stop shop," he adds. "It's a model. But it's not the only model."
Integration in some form will be imperative, not optional, Kim says. Agencies that don't bring both sides of the house together will eventually fail. But all agree that the DraftFCB model is solid. Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer, can't be wrong.