“Busi­ness dis­rup­tion has stopped us in our tracks, and we for­got to rein­vent our­selves along the way. We for­got to stay con­nected.”

In a fast so­ci­ety, only fast agen­cies will suc­ceed, says Sasan Saeidi

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - SASAN SAEIDI IAA global vice-pres­i­dent of con­tent strat­egy, and group man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of FP7 McCann UAE. The IAA In­spire ses­sions at the Dubai Lynx will ex­am­ine the role of in­flu­encers in mar­ket­ing to­day.

SASAN SAEIDI, IAA VP of con­tent strat­egy, on why a fast so­ci­ety needs fast agen­cies.

To­day we are deal­ing with a con­nected so­ci­ety that is con­stantly on the go and not naïve. So­cial me­dia can make you a hero overnight, and the op­po­site is also true. So our cre­ativ­ity has an in­stant like or re­jec­tion and it’s in the open.

The ad­ver­tis­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion land­scape has evolved dras­ti­cally from the days of Mad Men and 1930s Madi­son Av­enue, and the times when giants such as Bern­bach, Saatchi, Ogilvy and Burnett were very much ac­tive and at­tend­ing pitches.

Busi­ness con­di­tions are not the same any more, and the way agen­cies are try­ing to en­sure they so­lid­ify and jus­tify their brand value for clients and in so­ci­ety has changed. We are find­ing it harder to es­tab­lish our true worth.

The way agen­cies get re­mu­ner­ated to­day has dras­ti­cally de­te­ri­o­rated. We are now sell­ing cre­ative ideas by the kilo, com­pared with sell­ing them through a proper mea­sure­ment that takes into ac­count the time of the agency and the im­pact of our idea on the client’s busi­ness. In most cases we are giv­ing our ideas away.

The way our cre­ative work is per­ceived to­day and looked upon and con­sumed by so­ci­ety is not like be­fore. To­day we are deal­ing with a con­nected so­ci­ety that is con­stantly on the go and not naïve. So­cial me­dia can make you a hero overnight, and the op­po­site is also true. So our cre­ativ­ity has an in­stant like or re­jec­tion and it’s in the open.

Our cre­ative prod­uct is now the ob­ject of de­sire for many. Ev­ery­one is a cre­ative di­rec­tor, in­clud­ing the con­sumer. Me­dia agen­cies, PR agen­cies, CRM hot shops, Face­book and Google, and con­sul­tancy giants such as Deloitte and IBM are al­ready in the cre­ative space. Clients them­selves have a say, and all want to be la­belled as cre­ative in­sti­tu­tions.

There is a democrati­sa­tion of cre­ative pro­duc­tion. Ev­ery­one can pro­duce con­tent to­day; ev­ery­one can scale cre­ativ­ity and push it through mul­ti­ple so­cial chan­nels that were not there be­fore. Me­dia has shifted to real-time bid­ding, and con­ver­sion of­fi­cers are at the helm of cam­paigns.

Clients are no longer obliged or even in­cen­tivised to work with good old cre­ative ad agen­cies, as they them­selves are pro­duc­ing con­tent and cre­at­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion work. Look at the Dol­lar Shave Club work that has been pro­duced by the client.

The agency of record for clients is slowly de­clin­ing and be­ing re­placed by many spe­cialised agen­cies that can pro­vide a num­ber of of­fer­ings. And shrink­ing re­tain­ers are be­ing re­placed with project-based opportunities.

The uni­verse of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is shift­ing be­neath us and we are stand­ing still and work­ing in the old fash­ioned man­ner as if all is fine.

But this busi­ness dis­rup­tion has stopped us in our tracks; and we for­got to rein­vent our modus operandi along the way. We for­got to stay con­nected. The rea­son we are here to­day is our in­abil­ity as a cre­ative com­mu­nity to bring on board the next wave of in­te­gra­tors and thinkers and en­sure our pro­cesses are sim­ple at heart and ego­less. We have been reactive to all th­ese points above. We failed to read the signs and pre­dict the changes. But all is not lost. Yet. We need to en­sure we un­der­stand two fun­da­men­tal pa­ram­e­ters: what’s best for the brand, and what suits our in­ter­ests as cre­ative and com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions. There are ex­am­ples out there of how both pa­ram­e­ters can co-ex­ist.

As Bob Green­berg, the founder, chair­man and CEO of R/GA, says, a dis­rup­tion is needed ev­ery cou­ple of years. No­body can own this mantra bet­ter

than Green­berg’s agency (which was Cam­paign’s 2016 global ad­ver­tis­ing net­work of the year). It claims to have built the most con­nected of­fice in the world: a fully in­te­grated nexus that com­bines tech­nol­ogy, a new agency busi­ness model, mod­ern liv­ing and a host of con­nec­tiv­ity es­sen­tials that help its em­ploy­ees en­sure they re­main con­nected in­di­vid­u­als in a world of chang­ing ma­trixes.

R/GA is putting all its fo­cus on be­ing able to re­main the agency of the con­nected age – an age of so­cial me­dia, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and con­sumerism that is syn­ony­mous with tech­no­log­i­cal ap­petite. Agen­cies of to­mor­row (where R/GA is to­day) need to en­sure that their fo­cus re­mains on how they can bring cre­ativ­ity and tech­nol­ogy ever closer.

They must en­sure that their cre­ative prod­uct is tech­nol­ogy-friendly, that it is cre­ated with the help of tech­nol­ogy but not for the sake of tech­nol­ogy. Rather, it should be pro­duced for the sake of cre­at­ing value in peo­ple’s lives. R/GA’s Ven­tures di­vi­sion runs ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­grammes to cre­ate new tech­nolo­gies, which in turn serve a brand or mar­ket­ing ob­jec­tive. This is an agency model and ex­am­ple that not only serves the brand it is help­ing, but also serves the eq­uity of the agency as it raises it pro­file and its worth.

Con­nec­tiv­ity alone and an un­der­stand­ing that the fi­nal cre­ative prod­uct needs to serve a more dy­namic pur­pose are only half the equa­tion. A hand­ful of agen­cies in the world to­day have fig­ured out this in­te­grated for­mula well, and their work speaks for it­self. But in to­day’s main­stream com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­dus­try, where most hold­ing group agen­cies sit, the pro­cesses need to change fast.

Clients them­selves are ask­ing for more seam­less and in­te­grated an­swers to their briefs. They are seek­ing so­lu­tions that our silo mod­els are not able to an­swer. And when we do, it’s not op­ti­mal at all.

We are work­ing tra­di­tion­ally and, un­less we break down the bound­aries be­tween our­selves, the clients and other agen­cies, our cre­ative prod­uct will re­main ob­so­lete.

The big­gest ad­ver­tis­ers in the world are ask­ing for a new or­der of play, game-chang­ing mod­els that need to over­come the com­plex­ity we cur­rently live by.

Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief brand of­fi­cer, re­cently said: “Frankly, your com­plex­ity should not be our prob­lem, so we want you to make that com­plex­ity in­vis­i­ble.” He added: “Our ex­pec­ta­tion is that, over time, our agency part­ners, who­ever we choose, are go­ing to be able to in­te­grate [all of the work­load], so you can get the pro­duc­tion out, the dis­tri­bu­tion out as well as the cre­ative out.”

Frag­men­ta­tion of ef­forts to­day means mul­ti­ple agen­cies work­ing on cre­ative so­lu­tions for brands, and work­ing in si­los while do­ing so. The end re­sult is ideas and com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel plans that are not con­nected. They don’t tackle the real is­sues and are not sim­ple enough to be un­der­stood.

We can only over­come this clear and present prob­lem if we, as com­mu­ni­ca­tion agen­cies, come to­gether and stand united be­fore the client and the brand. We can no longer live the “di­vide and conquer” strat­egy. This fierce com­pe­ti­tion be­tween our­selves has also been the cause of our di­min­ish­ing fi­nan­cial mar­gins.

With­out sound­ing naïve, it is about unity and it is about hav­ing a dif­fi­cult chat in­ter­nally on how to­gether we can think long-term in­stead of short­term. The fu­ture is about work­ing as an an­chor-and-sup­port agency model, where an agency sur­rounds it­self with ex­perts from mul­ti­ple fields all com­ing to­gether to work on a spe­cific strat­egy, busi­ness goal and de­fined met­rics.

Egos only make things worse. Spe­cial­ist agen­cies must work to­gether and en­sure there is align­ment in­ter­nally on who does what: agree on the best can­di­dates with the right cre­den­tials to do a job, and then do it. Im­ple­ment a model for ac­count­abil­ity and then move on. Eas­ier said than done, but ev­ery one of us has a core com­pe­tency that we can own bet­ter than other things. Why can’t we all play fair, iden­tify that and act ac­cord­ingly?

Most of our struc­tures to­day are too rigid, too ver­ti­cal and too slow. We are too ego­cen­tric as a cul­ture and are not open to tak­ing ad­vice from other ex­pert brands in the in­dus­try. In­stead the agen­cies that are more con­nected and pre­pared for the fu­ture are the ones that are work­ing with no si­los, are hor­i­zon­tal in na­ture, fast, open and ego-free. They have fig­ured out the col­lab­o­ra­tion model.

To recap, there are six ur­gent key ac­tion points that main­stream agen­cies of to­day need to im­ple­ment to re­main in the game.

1. In­vest in tal­ent that brings a vast ar­ray of skills to the ta­ble, from coders to an­thro­pol­o­gists to hard-core data sci­en­tists. Even mu­si­cians and lin­guists. Imag­ine you have all th­ese minds and skills present in a cre­ative agency. A re­nais­sance of ideas comes to life. I want to bring on board more con­sul­tants and pair them up with cre­ative de­sign­ers.

2. Short-term think­ing will kill us, as we won’t in­vest in nav­i­gat­ing the choppy wa­ters ahead. We need a long-term view dur­ing th­ese tough times.

3. Put the ego away. Fo­cus on what you do best, sit around the 3.0 ta­ble and part­ner up fast to an­swer the clients. Di­vide the rev­enue ac­cord­ingly.

4. Try to cre­ate a more con­nected en­vi­ron­ment in your process and cul­ture. It’s not dif­fi­cult. Break down the si­los and shorten your high-rises. In­stead, build a lin­ear and flat­ter field of con­nected pods.

5. It’s not about the awards. Get over it. Our cre­ative should be cel­e­brated but we can’t be in the busi­ness of awards. Events like South by South­west are to­mor­row’s meet­ing points – a cross­roads where con­tent, en­ter­tain­ment and mu­sic meet.

6. Our cre­ative prod­uct should be one that is all about cre­at­ing value for peo­ple. Be less about mar­ket­ing at peo­ple, and more about mar­ket­ing for peo­ple. This means putting the con­sumer at the heart of your strat­egy.

Clients them­selves are ask­ing for more seam­less and in­te­grated an­swers to their briefs. They are seek­ing so­lu­tions that our silo mod­els are not able to an­swer. And when we do, it’s not op­ti­mal at all.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.