The Agency of the Future

Stan Rapp

Speculating about the future has always been hazardous. It is why William Preece, former chief engineer of the British Post Office, is remembered today for his most famous goof. When Alexander Graham Bell came to him with a big idea, Preece took a look into the future and shot back, 'England has plenty of small boys to run messages. The telephone is unnecessary.'

Better luck next time William!

Every now and then one of us gets it right and even dares to predict the next 'next thing.' Back in 1990 – in a book entitled The Great Marketing Turnaround – Tom Collins and I imagined the future and saw a very different marketing services world emerging.


We saw the power of image-building and brand-awareness advertising still on the scene, but no longer dominant. There would be a great new game in town. 'Database-driven interaction with individual consumers would move into the forefront of strategic thinking,' we said. The crystal ball revealed a turnaround from advertising monologue to direct interaction . . . from bombarding the marketplace to one-to-one relationships . . . from single-focus ad agencies to multi-discipline, integrated offerings.