We are in the midst of a communications renaissance. Like in Florence in 1600, the industry is ablaze with a spirit of enquiry. Marketers are questioning current practices and wondering if there are ways to make them better, faster and cheaper.
What is making their job more complex is the changing consumer profile. His media habits are changing, thanks to the internet. His attitudes towards human relationships, success, career, money and sex are also in a state of flux.
The marketers are trying to create potent marketing cocktail using agents like the creative agency, media agency, a digital agency, technology and force multipliers like Bollywood content and activation properties. It's a very complex job, involving big monies and a lot of risk.
When the client is facing scarcity of time and money, any organization that can fulfil a client's needs meaningfully stands to grow. And those needs can range from good insights, good creative thinking, quick response times, accessibility and the ability to understand the big marketing picture.
One thing is clear. This client need for a genuine communication partner and ideally, a single point of contact, is not being met by anybody today. All the agencies, be it media, creative or digital are largely doing their own stuff. The big opportunity today is that, anybody, be it an independent agency or a network agency, can fulfil that role, if they so desire and work towards it.
What makes the new independent agency well-placed to serve the clients in this new scenario? This question is a bit theoretical. The first truth of our industry is, it’s not about the structure, it’s about the people. No agency today can thrive unless it delivers good strategy, good creative or both.
However, the independent offers certain advantages of a small size. Since there is no hierarchy, clients are more readily reassured that the best brains in the agency will be working on their briefs. There is more interaction, often at short notice, and usually, a faster job delivery. There are no walls or buffers put up by mammoth people structures.
The other advantage is the comforting certainty that people working on the brand won’t change. There is a lot of attrition in the advertising industry and independent agencies are immune to it as usually, the founders aren’t as likely to walk away from the agency!
The other big factor that is helping shape the advertising industry are the changing aspirations of the creative people themselves. The success of independent agencies has spawned a hundred aspirations. The barometer of success is not just a sea-facing cabin and a fancy designation in a network agency. Today, working in a merit-based, non-political workplace with total creative freedom is also seen as a priority. Something that is more possible in an agency that has no baggage of too many designations or fixed salary slabs. This has led to many of the creative people actively looking for options that are personally empowering and self-rewarding.
The size of the economy has increased manifold in the past few years. The advertising industry is entering a period of constructive chaos. It is re-inventing itself and slowly mutating into a leaner and more efficient organism. The change may seem turbulent but is in the overall interests of long-term survival.
The author is Founder-Director of Scarecrow Communications.