It's time for agencies to get out of the old economic model and follow a distinct personality to sustain themselves, said Bob Kuperman, President and CEO, DDB New York, while addressing the audience at Impact One-on-One held by exchange4media group in New Delhi on Thursday.
Kuperman, highlighting the situation of advertising agencies in the United States, said, "The reason why there was a weakening in the state of ad business in US was because most advertising agencies started lacking efficient entrepreneurs who had distinct personalities." He said, years ago, entrepreneurs had such distinct personalities that their influence used to rub off on agencies. So much so that every agency had a distinct identity and voice, which enabled the clients to make their decisions faster. Kuperman pointed out that nowadays agencies speak the same language and the distinct personality has faded away, making most of them commoditised.
He said that it's time for agencies to stick their neck out and make the client realise that agencies have adequate talent and expertise. Instead of changing principals depending on clients, agencies should put forward a statement that encapsulates the ideals and vision of the company. "The 15 per cent commission is an age old model and how can we still continue with this?" questioned Kuperman. He added in the same breath, "A lot of problems that advertising agencies globally face are self afflicted and they can only help themselves."
He further talked about how agencies should protect their ideas rather than just give them away in one time to clients so that the latter can withhold them till infinite period. "It's time that the intellectual property be saved by the agency and not be given to the client for an infinite period," he said.
Kuperman also illustrated with examples on how agencies have failed to understand true partnership ties with the clients and how the concept of partnerships arose because agencies didn't want themselves to be perceived as vendors. "Most agencies that went into partnerships, saw that it all backfired," he said, adding, "There is nothing wrong with being a vendor."
So what were Kuperman lessons for Indian advertising agencies? "Firstly, be entrepreneurial and have your own distinct identity; Secondly, charge a decent profit from the client and don't undercut each other in business; Thirdly save your intellectual property."