TOKYO: Agencies in Japan are reinterpreting the meaning of creativity away from posters and films, and establishing consulting units as Dentsu and Hakuhodo formalise diverse forms of creativity.

In the wake of poor financial results for a number of large holding groups this year, agencies are now clear that they must explore new models through which to do business. A handful of agencies in Japan are pushing the boundaries of their offer to clients.

In November, Hakuhodo launched a specialist practice, Teko, that aims to deal with company management rather than marketers, to “break out of a divided way of operating”, with an offer of solving business and product challenges in concert with designers.

More recently, Dentsu has launched Business Design Square, a creative consulting unit with more staff than Hakuhodo’s Teko.

The adaptation of both suggests an important change in thinking from both agencies and clients. In the past, the relationship was not based on payment for pure creative thinking – that was an added extra to media buying. Though Dentsu has offered ad-hoc consulting services for a number of years, the value given to them is new.

What’s more, the models both are suggesting are often quite radical. Akihito Kunimi, ECD of Business Design Square has suggested that Dentsu is looking at revenue sharing models with clients, based on unlocking “management-side creativity.”

Effectively, these agencies have taken a proactive stance against creative output’s slip downstream. It is an outlook shared by other agency bosses.

Speaking at Advertising Week Europe, Jon Wilkins, Executive Chairman of Karmarama, which was acquired by Accenture Interactive in November 2016, noted the changing tide. In short, he felt that his agency’s “creative chops could sit higher up the food chain.”

From the consultancy side, Russell Marsh, Managing Director of Accenture Digital agreed that agencies needed to reinvent themselves. “They need to work out how they take costs out of the business, automate things like programmatic where it’s relevant and then add incremental value by reinventing themselves to add new creative opportunities to bring to life some of the client problems”, he said.

“Historically, agencies have offered high level strategic advice, but as advertiser categories matured, what agencies had to say wasn’t as strategic and was much more tactical,” Brian Wieser, senior analyst for advertising, media and internet at Pivotal Research Group told Campaign. Time will tell whether agencies will be able to return to the levels at which strategic choices are made.

Sourced from Campaign, WARC