Time to embrace change & a shifting creativity business model
by Shukri Toefy (@shukritoefy) & Mikhaila Hunter (@MikhailaHunter) Campaign recently published an article in which Sir Martin Sorrell proclaimed that MediaMonks, his newly acquired company, would “bypass agencies and take on consultants” — a bold statement from someone who allegedly played down this impending threat while still at WPP. Nevertheless, the time has come (some may argue it arrived a while ago) to embrace change and a shifting model for the business of creativity.
The announcement by Sorrell acts as an affirmation of a model of a creative, content and production network. This model itself acknowledges the need to come up with creative, content and digital solutions for an increasingly connected world, one in which traditional platforms, business structures and solutions are not servicing clients and their audiences to their full potential.
The advertising industry is no stranger to talk of disruption, and a new ‘agency’ which breaks traditional boundaries is an answer to the need for better creative solutions. But how does this new approach go about doing this? Practically, how is it better than what we’ve known over the past decade? This new model considers more closely its various stakeholders and is being better suited to take on a multitude of stakeholders such as publishers, brands, audiences and consumers, and assess what their needs really are in an, as the S4 Capital prospectus puts it, “always-on environment for multi-national, regional and local clients and for millennial-driven digital brands”.
There most certainly is merit to this new way of doing things which, according to the prospectus, is “agile, efficient, and of premium creative quality, in other words faster, better and cheaper” and, in a new model that is streamlined and arguable more efficient, the creative solutions can indeed lead to quicker, faster and better content and storytelling. Sorrell’s view is extremist in the sense that it fails to consider this new type of agency working in harmony with and directly to brands, with ad agencies and with consultancies, where none of them has to fall away.
So perhaps it’s not so much a case of ‘taking on’ one another but rather actively working together in the co-creation of these creative solutions. This emergence of a new type of agency, which is a creative content storytelling agency specifically, will increasingly work in ‘inter-agency relationships’. It’s important then to acknowledge then that, with the agility and streamlined processes, it brings a distinct and unique set of skills, which in an ‘inter-agency relationship’ and/or through partnerships is something that everyone may benefit from.
On the African continent, there are few companies on this new path that may rival, take on and be a competitor to its international counterpart in Media Monks; however, it’s possible for a company to not position itself as a competitor but rather as a partner in creating content, in a new way of communicating and delivering across creative, content, production and digital services.
Taking all this into account, especially from an industry heavyweight such as Sorrell, it may be easy to get sucked into a onesided view from a big name. And, although this is a time for change, we mustn’t forget the value of a traditional ad agency and consultancies. Over the years and what we see still continuing, their contribution — in terms of business improvement, strategy, creative and smart media buys — is still a vital party of the industry.
Look at the bigger picture, and we see, however, that what overlays all of that is how you tell a story and subsequently then take it to market. That’s where this more-streamlined and -agile way of creating content and delivering solutions, as explained by Sorrell, makes the Media Monks approach a good example of doing so. When streamlining these processes, what you do is guard against a loss of integrity when working at so many different levels. What it also allows for is that the creative content team is there at the table from the onset; it becomes a part of the process from the beginning.
In South Africa, we’ve seen steps towards what Sorrell has internationally stamped with his ‘seal of approval’, with traditional ad agencies setting up production capabilities, consulting firms acquiring creative agencies, and even brands themselves buying content agencies to bring in-house. A light has been shone on a disruptive industry that continues to reinvent itself, and an education of sorts to the investors on a growth opportunity it presents in this sector. It’s therefore important to look into growth opportunities and in finding partners in this new space.
In an era where there’s so much opportunity for the industry as a whole to find better solutions, push the boundaries on the craft of our work and forge the way forward in co-creation across various stakeholders, if you aren’t looking forward — you might just get left behind.
Shukri Toefy (@shukritoefy) is the co-founder and CEO of FORT and Mikhaila Hunter (@MikhailaHunter) is the marketing and communications manager of FORT — an award-winning, independent, creative content and production network across Africa, headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.
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