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Agencies aren't keeping up with client needs

News, 29 May 2017
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LONDON: The great majority of both agency CEOs (68%) and brand CMOs (72%) agree that current agency structures, processes and pace of delivery are not evolving at the same pace as a brand’s needs, according to a new survey.

That is one of the headline findings from a poll of 50 agency CEOs and 50 brand CMOs conducted by Creativebrief, the marketing intelligence firm, which also found significantly more brands than agencies expect to take their marketing in-house.

Specifically, almost three-quarters (72%) of brand CMOs say they plan more in-house marketing activity over the next three years, whereas just 47% of agency CEOs expect this to happen.

These and other findings were discussed at an event last week that was covered by Marketing Week, which found several brand CMOs to be sympathetic about the challenges facing agencies while still requiring the adoption of new thinking.

"Marketing has fundamentally changed from marketing to publishing, and the pace and turnaround is so much faster. What we're asking for is ideas but in a different shape and form," said Jennelle Tilling, Global CMP at KFC.

"We need quick pulses," she added, citing an agency in Asia that came up with the concept of "finger lickin' good" nail polish that KFC thought it could use to develop a narrative.

"It didn't take them 10 weeks to come up with and we didn't brief it, they just came up with it," she said. "We're looking for a great idea that connects and has a little story that we can tell. Our brands need to tell stories every day and that is what we're briefing for."

Jeremy Ellis, Marketing Director at travel firm TUI, acknowledged that agencies face similar difficulties as brands when trying to communicate with consumers in the digital age.

"We are fumbling our way through a world that is constantly changing. There are new conversations popping up in the consumer world all the time that you want to ride on the back of and that is quite a complicated thing to get your head round," he said.

Meanwhile, Paul Davies, Consumer Marketing Director at Microsoft, agreed that it can be difficult for agencies when clients are still trying to work things out themselves, but emphasised a growing need for a faster turnaround of work.

"The skills that are required to create a big above-the-line campaign are very different to the skills that we need for nimble, fast, speedy publishing of atomised content that we can slice and dice across different channels."

He suggested both clients and agencies should consider "a return to the big creative idea and that right brain creativity that I worry we might have devalued a little bit of late".

"That is where agencies can play a massive role. Clients can't do that bit alone."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by WARC staff

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