The managing director of adtech company Path 51 Simon Larcey (pictured above) pens us this impassioned plea for agencies to start focusing on things that matter, namely results for their clients.
I’d like to start off quoting the title from a song by one of Britain’s most famous boy bands, Take That: “Never forget”.
Specifically, never forget why you got into this industry. Surely, at the end of the day, everyone working in creative industries, advertising, media, ad-tech and marketing has one objective: to make great advertising that generates awesome results for their clients.
Our industry is doing things in the realms of innovation and creativity that have other businesses turning green with envy.
And yet, I can’t help but think there’s an uncomfortably large proportion of our industry who, rather than working on getting results for clients and making competitors strive – and sometimes even be inspired – to be better, there are those who are just in it as head-kickers.
The mean, petty, small-minded people who would rather bring other’s efforts and innovation down in an effort to gain themselves more business.
Do these people wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and tell themselves, “Never forget – you got in this game to slag your competitors, and you’re the best in the business!”
Perhaps I’ve been spoiled.
My career began in London, where everything is massive. The competition may be huge, but, maybe because budgets are much larger and the industry is far bigger, everyone is prepared to enjoy a beer together.
They love creative advertising, are cognisant of the fact the media is how you show it off, and so seem far more willing to celebrate a win – anyone’s win, even if it wasn’t their own agency’s.
And, since returning to the aggressive climes of this Great Southern Land, I’ve reached the conclusion there is more camaraderie in London because they are in it for the advertising as opposed to just being in advertising.
They know that if someone raises the bar by truly blending creativity and technology to generate results, it will ultimately benefit all of us, because we will all have to improve as a result.
But back here in Australia, competitor agencies rarely like each other. Even when they share clients, the rivalry is rife, with the two ‘teams’ looking for any chance to stick it to each other, rather than pulling in the same direction for the good of the client – as in the person who’s paying the bills. This may not always be the case but you only have to look at the slagging and trolling in the online comment streams; the worst-kept-secret feuds between agency bosses; the culture of pitch, pitch, pitch that seems to trump any need to perform.
So why are we like this?
Obviously, being a far smaller market has its role to play. Over 20 million people live in the Greater London Region, which is comparable to the entire population of the sixth biggest country on the planet by geographical size, AKA Australia.
And the flight time from the east to west coasts of Australia isn’t all that much shorter than crossing the Atlantic, going from London to the even bigger city of New York.
Australia’s huge geographic spread of a relatively small population has helped fuel the rise of city-specific agencies, yet there is still a general perception that most of the big accounts are situated in Sydney and Melbourne, which means nationally we’re an overly crowded, over-serviced market.
Add in the fact we’re a naturally entrepreneurial nation, and you’ve got a market where a new independent agency seems to be setting up shop every day, meaning one more mouth trying to get their piece of the pie.
But since there’s a set amount of money from a comparably set amount of clients, that means businesses need to be the best or they’ll fail.
The new agency needs to focus on evolving and adapting to changing landscape, instead of slagging off competitors and claiming they are industry-leading.
We hear leading agency heads talk about the new processes they have introduced to make working in this business easier, yet has anything really changed? It seems to me that staff are working longer hours just to get their heads around the vast amount of opportunities available to brands.
The agency of the future will need to develop an engine room – not a server room – a blend of creativity, media and, above all, technology. That is, technology that maximises efficiency, maps consumer behaviour, and blends data-led insights and attribution with creative advertising. The aim of these engines will be to maximise the client’s ROI through technological innovation and human creativity.
This engine will make agency teams more efficient, give them a real passion for the industry and, most importantly, deliver the best possible results for clients.
If that means including the ideas and efforts of multiple agencies working for the same client, bring them into the engine as well.
When different agencies spend their time battling each other instead of working for the client, everybody loses.