The rise and fall of the advertising agency

Philip Beeching and John Wood

We are fortunate enough to have attended several marketing conferences around the world over the last year and there seems to be a recurring theme: senior marketers are standing up and saying advertising agencies must change. In this article, we take a look at the pressures on advertising agencies to adapt, and what a 21st-century agency might need to look like, to truly support its clients' needs.


Advertising, in all its guises, existed in a remarkably stable and fixed state for the best part of 40 years.

Yes, more commercial TV and radio channels came along; yes there was an explosion in all sorts of publications; and yes you could do more exciting things with outdoor, but we all knew that if the client had the budget we would probably stick them on TV and everything else came after that. A reincarnated adman from 1966 would have slipped right back into the groove in 1996; however, in 2006 he would start to feel like a fish out of a rather cheeky little Burgundy (remember, he is a 1966 adman).