Spikes Asia 2015
Agency Of The Future

The agency model is in flux but the right approach to innovation and collaboration from leadership can help reshape the agency of the future, agree a panel at Spikes Asia 2014.

The future of the agency was put to debate at Spikes Asia this week with Unilever’s Aseem Puri stating “Consumer changes first, brands change second, agencies change last”.

According to research by 12ahead parent company The Knowledge Engineers, there are three key issues dampening the future for agencies. The first issue is that consumer change is outpacing agency leadership, there are also new skills that are required and, finally, agency culture is hindering change and innovation.

Only 25% of respondents felt that their organisation was ready for the digital challenge, according to the report.

Aseem Puri, Unilever senior marketing director of fabric cleaner was joined in a panel that included outgoing Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore CEO Paul Roebuck, Carat APAC CEO Sean O’Brien and The Knowledge Engineers founder and CEO Niall McKinney.

O’Brien agreed with Puri’s remark that agencies change last in the sequence, arguing that media agencies had seen more change than any, “Media agencies have been through more change in the industry, mainly driven by the consumer.  You need a structure that is flexible and agile enough to continue to change.”

A theme from the panel was that an attitude and passion for change was needed from agency leaders and in new talent hires. Loving change, they said, was essential because that enabled the flexibility that agencies now need.

The panel also discussed why many agencies had so far failed at being able to understand the disruption of technology on the agency model.

Saatchi & Saatchi’s Paul Roebuck, said, “We have brought in technical skills before we knew how to monitize it, so the organisation doesn’t utilise these people first.”

Similarly, Unilever’s Puri complained of agencies getting too preoccupied by the technology and not the insights needed to create good work. “In rural India there is trouble with media reach, but everyone has a mobile phone.  We can engage with people through mobile, you could give the radio a missed call then they will get called back with 15 minutes of free content.  It’s all about consumer insight and not the technology; it needs to fit what the consumer needs.  It is not only the technical skills but linking it to the right insights,” he said.

His reference to the ‘missed call’ idea was for the Unilever ‘Earworm’ campaign, part of a long-term push into rural India with innovative mobile ideas, but the idea of ‘missed calls’ is being used more widely in India. It is something that Facebook is now adapting into its mobile marketing options from brands in India.

Bates CHI presented on how the agency of the future will be and how companies can nurture talent.

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