P E MSEL ON AGENCIES
Big ad agency groups must change because they are “equally challenged” compared with publishers, according to Pemsel. “Google and Facebook are creating as many complications for them as they are for us,” he says.
Pemsel spent his early career at WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather and says: “The holding companies feel like they’re set up to deliver shareholder value and they’ve slightly lost sight of the fact that there is a client who needs strong, independent advice.
“If you started with the client and held up a mirror to the [agency] organisations if they don’t change, the companies might move a bit more quickly.”
GMG has disclosed for the last three years in its accounts that it pays rebates to media agencies in return for certain volumes of spend – a practice that Pemsel accepts as “a fact of life about how media gets traded”, even though “we can debate the pros and cons” of rebates.
Still, Pemsel hints that wider structural changes are going to force agencies to change the way they do business.
“One needs to go to the other end of the telescope [from rebates] and let’s just work out the true definition of the role the media agency plays now with the increased consolidation of investment happening in very few places,” he says.
The Guardian has shaken up its own agency relationships, using Oliver as an on-site agency in the publisher’s office for fastturnaround, digital creative.
But Pemsel warns the ad industry must not lose sight of the big picture and long-term strategic thinking at this time of digital disruption and automation.
“If we don’t think about the role of brand and quality of creative ideas, then I’m not entirely sure where you’ll end up,” he warns.