Thursday, October 25, 2007

7 Models for Agency Survival

**UPDATED**Changes are required for advertising agencies to survive in the future. Here are some thoughts on what the model might be...

1. destroy & rebuild:
a la DRAFT/FCB UK - offering voluntary redundancy to all staff so they can rebuild in the right way - not sure that they expected 50 people to say yes...

2. mini-me:
fund key staff (who are probably thinking about their own start-up anyway) to set up competing/complimentary fast moving companies to challenge and change the model. assimilate key lessons into the main agency. naked - though an untraditional model in the first placed has done this with a variety of offerings including Naked Inside as have Anomaly with Another Anomaly.

3. the brain:
a collection of the right minds with no vested interest in what channel gets produced and with a thin level of creative. in-sourcing work to other agencies within a holding company or large group. As mentioned in the comments below Agency Republic started out as this model then moved to full service digital.

4. conductor:
similar to above but outsourced to a black book of key suppliers and orchestrate not only delivery of a core idea through their relevant channels/disciplines but work with them and share ideas. similar to a tv directors/producer model. many agencies, including digital, operate this model using people like the Barbarian Group to deliver. outsource 20% of their work.

5. buy-ups:
do the above then buy them in. though differing cultures could be a big issue. again many have been through this model including to varying degrees of success.

6. don't do digital:
don't attempt to do everything digital but just do what you are good at - direct response, story tell ling or reputation management - and integrate it simply into the mix. "no digital - go away" was Gooby's approach where no work was allowed to be presented if it didn't have a digital component.

7. the tweak:
though it might appear to be rearranging deck chairs on the titanic, there seems to be merit in this approach as most are doing it. incremental shifts but nothing seismic, Fallon is a good example

er... 8. the ostrich
"only a few years till i am out so it will all fall apart on someone else's watch." No names mentioned...

Any thoughts or other suggestions...



Anonymous said...

the mini-me thing looks like it could work on paper, but history has shown that it is really hard to do. Both sides get precious and the JV or partnership usual falls to pieces.

the brain is also difficult because of the reasons I've outlined above and at some point the P&L rears it's ugly head.

Which leads to the problems you hint at in point 5.

I really like the courage involved in destroy and build and (as I'm sure Mr Parker will agree) it is surprising that Draft/FCB did it, although I do suspect that they were hoping for more than 50 people to say yes.

If I were running a monster of an agency I would probably go with destroy and rebuild.

Giles Rhys Jones said...

agree - it is what happened when i started Agency republic - it was meant to be a media neutral - before thre phrase was coined - agency that outsourced to its parents - chjm & unfortunateky we got limited support from and the majority of solutions ended up being digital any way. it split from the parents and went back to grandparents - omincom...

an inside bird told me draft were actually hoping for 12 people to accept but all the guys who would easily find roles also said yes so the company had to start saying no - allegedly - whoops!

Gavin Heaton said...

Agree on culture ... there is a fad for hiring those who will challenge the status quo and actively work to undermine the traditional ways of doing things. Apparently this inspires innovation.

In my view, this needs to be tempered with experience. In throwing out the bathwater, you can sometimes throw out the bath too. Sounds like this is where Draft/FCB find themselves. Though I am impressed that they would try something like this in scale -- even if it is risky.

Anonymous said...

#2. complementary NOT complimentary

Unknown said...

haha, I'm not sure if this is a parody post, but what happened to these?..

9.the back-flip
Write creative presentations, with ARPU as your lead slide

10.role reversal
Get the sorry sods to work in the client's finance department for a change

Terence Chan

Giles Rhys Jones said...

@terence - tongue was firmly in cheek when this was written. i like the new additions. re back flip:

there is a theory that all strategic and fiscal presentations and ideas should go through a creative person to get signed off - it is what happens the other way round after all...

Giles Rhys Jones said...

@Anonymous. is that you mum?