K V Sridhar

Everyone needs to reinvent him or herself every now and then to make him or her relevant to the changing environment around us.

Human needs or brand needs, business needs or even nations are no different from each other.

The early nineties were the most frenzied times I have ever seen in my 33 odd years in advertising. The opening-up of economy, Microsoft & Google revolution, satellite television, Infosys vision and Ganguly's audacity transformed a timid nation to the most ambitious one in the world today.

This change had its own impact on Indian advertising. Good old boy's comfort zone of 15% commission had come into close scrutiny, lazy bum's were thrown out, Microsoft and Adobe replaced proofreaders and cut-paste artists, kickbacks were officialized as negotiations, and media buyers emerged as the new heroes for clients and villains for traditional agencies.

In short 15% was reduced to 10% for the traditional agency and the rest 5% went to media, thereby separating media from creative. Today a traditional agency is being reduced to just a creative agency for television scripts, media planning, media buying, digital planning, digital buying, mobile, events, promo, direct, PR, consumer research, insight mining, brand strategy and design. Even stock images and film production are bought directly.

While the theory of specialization sounded good and arguments of rupee efficiencies were appreciated, clients across the world were caught in a new dilemma, while brand managers could deal with creative TV scripts, and brand strategy rest needed specialists (who never existed).

Today most of the clients have 10 specialists dealing with content and contact management. While stand alone performances of each vertical are spectacular, collectively they added up to nothing as far as the brand's emotional equities are concerned.

This led to the emergence of IMC leaders in MNC clients (Integrated Marketing Communications), who seek a single point to orchestrate brand communications. Today it is not surprising to see agencies like Crispin or Droga 5, or even our very own Creativeland Asia or TapRoot flourishing, as they are offering integrated solutions and orchestration of ideas, as opposed to TV scripts by partnering with medium specialists. If big agencies do not get it yet, God help them as smaller ones will gulp them and digest them in no time.

Agencies need to go back 20 years and get champions of ideas. Today what independent small media neutral/new age media agencies are doing is nothing different from the old agencies approach of Integrated solutions to brand communication, and orchestration of brand ideas in all mediums.

DeBundled verticals are getting bundled again in smaller integrated agencies and hope the big ones are listening.