Media Redefined: Amazing! How to put toothpaste back into the tube
by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) Sometime in the late ’90s, somebody asked Sir Martin Sorrell if he ever thought media would go back into creative agencies. His reply became the unquestionable wisdom on the matter ever since: “You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”
This view has held strong ever since, and it has also been applied to most other discipline specialist agencies. Except, in the last few years, clients have started to realise that the work and effort required to manage multiple agencies and getting them to collaborate and deliver integrated solutions has been becoming increasingly onerous. Why should clients manage putting together the communications puzzle? Surely that was an agency output?
It feels as if a tipping point of sorts has now been reached.
The recent Distell pitch has been a good example. It recently announced that its brands would be split between two “integrated communications partners”, WPP and Publicis Groupe. Both groups would be setting up teams that would “manage all aspects of the marketing mix, including advertising, digital, social, PR, media and activations”.
This clearly puts the management of all communications at the integrated agency door.
Focus on outputs
It means the marketing teams can focus on the outputs, as opposed to the process. And, as importantly, it means that the agencies are tasked to deliver the full solution to any business problem. It ensures agency output is what it should be — touchpoint or discipline-neutral ideas and plans that are focused on the right thing: solving the problem.
For too long, clients have paid the price of agencies behaving like crabs in a bucket, trying desperately to come out on top. Instead, the brief now is simple: do what you think is right.
Toothpaste being put back into the tube feels a bit like going backwards — not to mention unhygienic! But, at the very least, this evolution should be seen as the development of a bigger, better tube that doesn’t allow for any spillage at all. Now that would make me happy.
Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) is managing director of Connect, an M&C Saatchi Company, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Martin has spent 18 years in the industry, and has previously worked at Ogilvy and was MD of MEC Nota Bene in Cape Town. He contributes the monthly “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to MarkLives.com.
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