Rana Barua
Apr 11, 2015

Goafest 2015: ‘We need to define the agency of the future, today’: Rana Barua

The Contract India CEO reflects on learnings from the ongoing festival

Goafest 2015: ‘We need to define the agency of the future, today’: Rana Barua
Among learnings that struck me on day one of Goafest 2015, at the Industry Conclave, was that the expectations from agencies on the part of clients have changed. What is needed is a completely new model, not just a tweak on what we are. All agencies need to be equipped to deliver any form of effective solutions needed by brands. 
And it’s not about digital or traditional… it’s a new approach aligned with the changing consumer. While the classical agency model still has the fundamentals and will play a role, it needs an overhaul, starting with the mindset.
A lot of change is happening around us. The business environment has changed, usage of mediums have changed, patterns of consumption are ever-changing. Are agencies adapting fast enough is the question. Because clients are expecting change today, and not in the future.
Speed of ideas and execution
Among things that need to change is the speed of ideation and execution that we were used to. If agencies cannot deliver when needed, someone else will. Powerful ideas now need to be generated and executed in much shorter time frames, targeting consumers in the right places leading to results, and the agency must move on to the next idea immediately. This is not something we have grown up with. But we need to imbibe it.
Senior clients who spoke on day one of the festival showcased some stunning examples of such nimble thinking and action. Standard Chartered Bank’s Sanjeeb Chaudhuri shared the case of their campaign around Liverpool Football Club captain Gerard, which he revealed did not come from the classical agency. You do not need an agency tagged ‘digital’ to come up with digital solutions; digital is part of every solution today. 
We need the keedas
There is no such thing as a ‘future’ agency. We have to do it now because the consumer has already moved on and marketers have no choice but to move with them if not ahead of them.
It is a challenge. There is a certain way in which agencies have been structured, there is a certain way in which we have gone about hiring talent. We have not been conditioned to think of a big idea that will run just for 24 hours. But we need to. Some of it may work and some of it may fail. We need a mindset change all around to be able to accept that.
But it is not as if agencies are not blessed with the talent that is necessitated to meet the marketing and communication needs of today. We have our share of those we fondly call ‘keedas’. They have never been recognised earlier. We need to figure them out, and now encourage these dynamic people who believe in proactively doing the unexpected and coming up with unexpected solutions.
It could be that we appoint some ‘Project Leaders’ to initiate the change we need, starting with certain brands. We need them to infect the thinking in the agency. It’s their time to shine.
Campaign India

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