Senior marketers are in talks about shaking up their agency models as they grapple to save some of the time they waste managing agency relationships.
Pitch doctor and marketing management consultant Darren Woolley told B&T he has met with “a lot of CMOs” who are frustrated at being the go-betweens for their agencies.
When it comes to tackling big strategic issues, Woolley’s solution is the ‘City Model’. Rather than having a lead agency, or trying to manage all agencies, or a team of representatives from each of their agencies, Woolley proposes a model where marketers can directly access the individuals they want to work with.
“The trouble with agencies is that, no matter which model you work with, they don’t allow you to get access to the people you need – you have to buy the whole agency,” he said. “That comes with all the infrastructure and account management. The City Model says, as marketer, I have the option to look around the suburbs and cherry pick the people I want to come and work on a problem.
“The model proposes that marketers arrange their agencies like suburbs. As you move away from the CBD – or the brand – there will naturally be more suburbs – or agencies – the further you go.”
Woolley, founder of TrinityP3, said there are obvious issues with the model – and that it won’t be for everyone.
“This is not about writing ads, it’s about solving big strategic problems,” he said, adding: “Most agencies don’t like the idea of their people becoming their stars. They want the agency to be the star.
The model would also force agencies to take on another role: talent management. “At the moment, they hide these people away in many agencies. But under this model, they would have to be more like a William Morris Endeavor agency, representing lots of talented people.”
Convincing agencies is the first hurdle. “The biggest obstacle is getting agencies to understand they are not losing anything,” said Woolley. “What they are giving up is trying to own the whole client relationship.”
The current models
The Lead Agency
The marketer deals direct with their ‘lead agency’ and that agency deals direct with the brand’s other agencies. “If you don’t set it up or manage it properly, the lead agency becomes like a gate keeper,” said Woolley.
The marketer deals with a team of representatives from its various agencies.
The marketer has an inner circle of agencies (eg. media, digital and creative), an outer circle (eg. PR) and others on the periphery (eg. merchandising and sales promotion).
Best of Breed
The marketer manages all the agencies, identifying which ones to work with on any particular brief.