The workflow for creative agencies is changing rapidly. Traditionally, a company or brand would hire one Agency of Record (AOR) to handle every aspect of their advertising and marketing strategy. This AOR would be responsible for creating and producing all coinciding marketing material. However, as the digital age exploded, this also disrupted the conventional workflow between a creative agency and their client.
“With digital media beginning to play a bigger and bigger role in consumers’ lives, traditional advertising was disrupted…In many ways, the rise of new marketing and communication channels leveled the playing field for businesses, thus increasing competition. Digital services also gave birth to a lot of new contenders, with new sets of skills, able to adapt quickly in the changing landscape.” - Nathan Roach
Multi-vendor agreements are now commonplace in the business environment. As brands want to be recognized as global companies and stand out in the digital age, niche creative agencies from around the world are helping to implement marketing and advertising strategies - as well as produce highly specialized content. In turn, multiple creative agencies, marketing and adverting companies, and design firms are working together for a single client. This mindset has led to market consolidation, and major global agencies acquiring smaller specialty firms so that they can offer all of these services “under one roof.”
Adidas is taking this new marketing and advertising strategy a step further by working with regional agencies located in their target markets, that have a deep understanding of the consumer.
According to Adidas VP of global marketing Emily Maxey: "It would be limiting to assume that any brand’s global headquarters has a firm grasp on all of the cultural nuances or personalities of these different cities."
"We’ve really been trying to push beyond the traditional advertising model, and open up our brand to work with creatives and creators in these key cities," Maxey said, sitting down with me at the annual DPAA Video Everywhere Summit in New York.”
"We’re relying less and less on the more traditional agency model, and more and more on working with creative communities in these locations," she added.
As creative agencies fully embrace the digital era, they’re starting to function more like Media & Entertainment (M&E) companies. This mindset means that the content they are working with is just as complex as a traditional film or production company. One such example is Cycle Media. First started under the creative agency named Laundry Service, Cycle Media began creating content for brands like Beats by Dre and Bud Light.
“Today, Cycle Media is an “umbrella” organization that includes Laundry Service, and has pivoted into being a media company that creates video content and sells ads alongside it…It will soon also include more media brands. In June, it got $150 million from sports marketing firm Wasserman, which has a controlling stake in the company — cash that Stein (Jason Stein, CEO) wants to spend on making more media company acquisitions.” - Shareen Pathek
The rapid rise and importance of video content poses a difficult challenge for creative agencies, as they must work with everything from 4k video, 3D models for product design, lossless audio for podcasts, and Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) content.
Once branded content is produced and consumed by the masses, coinciding data and analytics must be gathered to see who the content reached and how successful it was. At the end of the day brands need to make sure they are being as effective as possible reaching their target customer. If the customer acquisition cost is too high, they need to pivot as quickly as possible.
“A lot of the more traditional agencies don't rely on data since they're so focused on creative, and that won't work anymore, she adds. The future will be about marrying creativity with data, which means agencies will have to make sure they have staff on board that can dissect data in creative ways.” - Lindsay Stein.
As agencies and brands pursue a more personalized relationship with the consumer, it is important that all creatives and their clients respect consumer privacy regulations. Whether it is analytical data, or personal information from focus groups and A/B testing, complying with data privacy laws must be adhered to and accounted for in the workflow. Brands and agencies targeting European users must abide by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements, and any company selling to American customers but respect their privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Having a compliant technology stack is crucial for agencies and brands that analyze campaigns and datasets which contain personal information.
It’s fairly common for a creative agency to be involved with a client during the brainstorming process, or prior to a completed product. This early integration and communication with a brand typically leads to greater success because both teams can provide feedback that may create a better product or experience for the consumer. Agencies are supplied with early design iterations of the product, and in return provide initial pitches and concepts to clients which results in priceless IP being exchanged back and fourth. It is important for both parties to ensure that the IP being created, and the IP they have been entrusted with, is kept confidential and remains property of the rightful owner. Whether it is the latest marketing pitch for a new campaign, or a proprietary shoe design, creative agencies deal with IP prior to commercialization every day. In the grand scheme of things, a creative agency’s value is based on the ideas and concepts they are generating. From marketing and advertising, to design or PR, it is crucial for every type of agency to protect their IP and provide clients with an unrivaled collaborative experience.
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