Ten steps towards bridging the brand-agency divide

Alain Thys

Once upon a time, marketing was easy. Business growth and ad-spend seemed to correlate. Big brands had big budgets, so big agencies helped to spend them. This often resulted in big parties on the French Riviera.

But as the brands kept spending, the marketing trade industrialised. Agencies became budget processors, turning marketing cash into 30-second ads, and each generation of admen worried a little less about whether their work actually made money for their clients.

And then media consumption splintered. Tech-savvy consumers with DVRs ad-zapped, and the ones who didn't just went to the bathroom. The intrusion model started breaking down and the correlation between business growth and marketing budgets disappeared.

The agencies could have seen it coming. They could even have warned their clients, but very few did. Most continued to party on the French Riviera.