Devina Joshi

The traditional agency model is dead: Nick Brien, Universal McCann

At the AAAI Diamond Jubilee Valedictory Function organised in Mumbai yesterday, all the past presidents of AAAI were felicitated. The chief guest for the evening, Nick Brien, made some interesting points on which agency models work best today

“With concepts like media fragmentation, media unbundling and consumer empowerment, one often wonders which agency model will work best,” said Nick Brien, president and CEO, Universal McCann, at the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) Diamond Jubilee Valedictory Function organised in Mumbai on August 2, 2006. Brien was the chief guest for the evening and delivered a speech on the topic, ‘Will a New Agency Model Emerge to Ensure Greater Collaboration between Media and Creative?’

“While the industry is grappling with the realities of the changing times and people are debating on what will work, I’ll tell you the one thing that won’t work any more – the full service, traditional agency model,” Brien said firmly. According to him, that model is dead. But what is not dead is the coordination and collaboration between advertising functions like creative and media.

Brien further commented that, contrary to popular belief, specialisation is not the answer to everything; it is a combination of generalists and specialists which will get the ball going.

Brien also spoke about the growing influence of technology in people’s lives. “Most change in this world arises out of either crisis or technology, rarely out of vision,” he quipped. The gifts of technology such as the Blackberry, laptop and the Internet are all gaining increasing importance. “Sadly, digital media is still seen largely as a mere ‘add-on’ by marketers, when, in fact, the world is headed the digital way,” Brien said. According to him, the challenge lies in striking a balance between the digital world and the physical world.

Brien was quick to clarify that he didn’t mean to challenge the reach and power of traditional mass media. “But the latest trend is doing that. Consumers want ‘my media’ or media that is personalised for them,” Brien said. “And it is quite dangerous for marketers to think that they can continue to rely solely on 30-second commercials.” To support his point, Brien revealed that in the US, in the homes that possess TiVo (a kind of digital video recorder), 70 per cent people skip commercials on television. Ad avoidance is even greater in the case of people who have been using TiVo for the past one year – over 80 per cent of them avoided traditional advertising.

“I’m sure that clients will soon realise that a large part of their ad bucks is being wasted as people are now skipping traditional advertising,” he asserted.

Brien then moved on to talk about the systems of media measurement, which he felt needed to be changed desperately. It’s time to move away from exposure and move towards engagement, he said.

The role of marketing, too, has evolved. From the traditional marketing model, one saw the emergence of the relationship marketing model, which has now made way for a collaborative marketing model. Advertising, too, needed to change from a ‘push’ strategy to a ‘pull’ one. “Creative directors should create content that consumers would want to download, rather than pushing content down their throats,” he pointed out.

For this, he said, the best talent needs to be brought on board. Summing up, Brien said that five elements need to be present in an agency model for it to survive. Firstly, the agency needs to have a culture of curiosity. It needs organisational capabilities to recruit and support the best talent. It needs to be ‘media choice-ful’ as opposed to ‘media neutral’. Next, it needs to recognise talent over experience. Lastly, it needs to believe in the fusion of art and science.

Apart from Brien’s speech, the event saw the felicitation of all the past presidents of the AAAI, including renowned names such as Nargis Wadia, Ram Sehgal, Roger Pereira, Goutam Rakshit, Sam Balsara and Anil Kapoor. Srinivasan K Swamy, who was recently appointed AAAI president for the third time in a row, was also honoured at the event.

© 2006 agencyfaqs!

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