NEW YORK: Agencies should consider directly challenging management consultancies in areas such as technology and strategic services, according to Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Growth Officer at Publicis Groupe.

Tobaccowala discussed this subject during a keynote session at the 2017 Strategy Festival organised by the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies).

And in thinking about the role of agencies, Tobaccowala suggested that restricting their purpose solely to “advertising” was an approach that lacked ambition compared with expanding it to include areas where consultancies currently predominate.

“We should go and get their stuff. It’s a very, very different way of looking at it,” he said. (For more details, read WARC’s exclusive report: Tobaccowala: Three hard truths for the advertising industry.)

“This industry should think broadly [about] technology services, marketing services and strategic services. It’s [worth] $1.6 trillion globally, three times the size of the marketing services industry. That’s what they’re all coming at.”

Building on this theme, he argued that the movement of consultancies like Deloitte and Accenture into the marketing arena represents a vote of confidence in the role agencies can fulfill in the digital age.

“We are stupid. We have to change and we’ll be fine. Otherwise other people will get in,” Tobaccowala said. “Because if this industry was not so good, why does Bain, and McKinsey, and Accenture, and Deloitte, and everybody invest in it?”

One main recommendation he outlined for agencies was to focus on growth opportunities, rather than simply trying to help clients steal market share.

“We’re actually living in a world of massive, amazing growth. Sometimes our industry doesn’t know it. But, for instance, I believe nothing is as powerful as the marketing industry. In fact, I believe we’re in a marketing renaissance,” Tobaccowala said.

This renaissance will be fueled, in part, by technologies, like Amazon Alexa, that allow brands to gain a uniquely granular understanding of consumers.

“Marketing is going to be more important in the future than ever before, because it’s what understands customer requirements,” Tobaccowala said.

Data sourced from WARC