COLOGNE: Agencies are having to reinvent themselves since the skills they sold as unique become commoditised and consumers no longer respond to commercial messages as they once did.

The alternative to taking potentially drastic action, attendees at the recent dmexco conference heard, is to become obsolete.

“Right now, (agency) businesses are being overtaken by those who are playing your game, but by new rules,” Alice Hatch CMO at Deloitte Digital, told a panel session. (For more details read WARC’s report: The 80% agency: how to stay one step ahead of disruption.)

And she should know, since Deloitte has been at the forefront of the trend of management consultancies buying up creative agencies. But the traffic is not all one way.

R/GA is an agency founded on the idea of disruption. “We used to be able to reinvent R/GA every nine years to keep pace with technology, but now we change almost every year – not because I want to, but because that’s the speed of change,” said founder Bob Greenberg in a keynote address to the conference.

“We’ve tried to design a company that stays just one step ahead of disruption, and in 40 years, we’ve yet to be disrupted even once.”

In its current incarnation, R/GA is pushing back against the management consultants. “The consulting business is ripe right now for disruption,” Greenberg declared, as he observed “a collision of management consultants and marketing services” around the world.

“They’re rapidly trying to create new business by acquiring creative agencies [but] we’re going the opposite way, gradually building on the creative and strategic foundation of R/GA and pushing into the consulting business.”

The agency helps clients transform their own businesses, innovate and reorganise to develop new revenue streams.

Hatch also saw new opportunities for the marketing discipline in the shake-up under way in the sector, as agencies and brands adapt to the demands of digitally driven consumers, with more testing and learning on the go rather than the old practice of delivering a finished product.

“Now we have the largest focus group in the world at our fingertips,” she said. “If we use it right we can make the role of marketing incredibly strategic in a business.”

Sourced from WARC