The third session at the Advertising Conclave held on April 7 was dedicated to help advertising agencies understand how some companies have organised themselves for the new decade. Colvyn Harris, chief executive officer, JWT chaired a session where findings from a study conducted by IMRB with senior agency heads and some brand managers. He was joined by Rohini Abraham, senior vice president, PQR, a specialist agency of IMRB International.
Starting the session by saying that he is a believer in the power of brands, Harris said, “I believe in advertising and in the power of brands. Where we lack is that we still continue to moan and groan. What requires a change is the way agencies organise themselves.” He pointed out that problems can be resolved only if agencies collectively decide to take action.
Pointing out the JWT example where client, brand and the business is at the centre, he urged all agencies to offer honest advice and solutions to the client, instead of what is profitable for the agency’s business. Harris also touched upon the unprecedented growth of social media and the need for agencies to have the know-how to collaborate with specialist agencies for delivering the best possible results for clients. Harris observed that people will always chase brands, and said, “Brands will always play a crucial role and as long as brands do that, agencies too will continue to play a crucial role.”
Based on the findings of the study, Abraham remarked, “When we spoke to agencies and clients, we found that the issues were not different, but the perspectives were.” The biggest issue turned out to be talent, where agencies said that it has become increasingly difficult for them to attract and retain talent. Meanwhile acknowledging the problem, advertisers were of the view that agencies do not have processes in place to address the issue and clients are even looking outside for their requirements. While agencies also noted that current remuneration is pressing the bottom line and impacting talent, advertisers observed that they are willing to negotiate on the remuneration aspect, provided the agencies offer assured value.
Touching upon consumer understanding, advertisers were of the view that both of them (advertisers and agencies) understand consumers. Agencies, however said they will invest more in the understanding consumers if clients gave them enough time and resources. A point that advertisers touched on were the presence of specialist agencies, which agencies believe to be very good for the industry, facilitating greater focus and market growth. However, advertisers agreed that they are great, but added that they are a source of confusion.
Discussing the emergence of new media, agencies still believe that television is the biggest thing, while advertisers are wary about the fact that agencies are not keeping pace with the emerging technologies and not many big ideas are coming in the new mediums.
Closing the session, Harris said that talent, consumer centricity, digital and technology, and integrated communication are the five factors that will drive the future for agencies.