The mediocrity in the advertising business will sleep very poorly this week. Accenture’s acquisition of Droga 5 will eventually ensure that the finest talent stays in the party, finally getting due monetary rewards. While the missionaries of the 30-second TVC scurry for cover, their boardroom monopolies destined to rapidly evaporate.
Theodore Levitt, in his landmark article from 1960 in the HBR, coined the term Marketing Myopia, wherein he urged everybody to wisely define the business that they are in, from the customer experience and not the manufacturer’s perspective. Advertising, in its original form, was in the business of building brand experiences, the storytelling narrative a key element in the overall proposition. Somewhere along the way, it got redefined as the TVC-Print industry, mistaking the prime output to be the primary outcome. Having lost the plot resoundingly, aided by inept management, its comeback attempts were also pedestrian, driven by hasty horizontal acquisitions.
The modern-day consultant faces a different challenge, the need to integrate the value chain from thought to action. Thus, scale, digital and experience competencies are not enough – creative strategy and execution must complete the picture. Such a synergy works effectively when it is top-down (in this case) or at least horizontal (a captive and credible consulting arm) and not bottom up. Which is why creative agencies could not achieve this objective and it is a convenient cakewalk for the business consultants, soon to be a deluge. In every sense, the results will be delirious for the brands, well-suited to fulfilling their market potential.
Strategy integrity will be the first and possibly most potent result of this merger. A single channel of resolution will eliminate loss of transmission between intent and content, no room for insecure egos or the need to prove isolated worth. Thus, the experience design can be communicated by insightful creativity, privy to the processes and sparkle of a unified system. Creativity at large is slated to flourish, armed now with a focus and purpose hitherto distant.
If the merged organisation chooses to be disruptive, then bright advertising minds can be promoted in the value chain, contributing significantly to experience design and not just communication. I have always believed that in terms of pure imagination skills, the creative professional is the finest in the pack, under-utilised grossly in communication. Instead, if these minds merge with the data experts earlier in the piece, through a suitable process conduit, then innovation will be the beneficiary. We are looking at the possibility of a great new funnel for new news, currently compartmentalised.
Clients will also benefit operationally from such an arrangement, as a shadow customer experience process is exercised by the partner, complementing the owner organisation. Experience suggests that experiential leakages often happen at the client end, equally plagued by talent and perspective issues. This gets worsened by the partnership panel, especially with multiple specialists establishing their own agenda. Output at the client end will improve, for all who choose this integrated partnership.
The most vital value will be the valuation of the services provide by the combined/creative entity. Currently advertising revenues are at the opposite end of the consulting revenues, a reality that will soon be corrected. As consulting clients avail of the creative services from the same window and there is a greater premiumisation of the creative offer at large. As a result, a superior quality of talent can be hired and nurtured, not the cut-price variety currently in vogue as a result of appalling salaries. A superior culture of Training and Development, notably skill upgrade, can be initiated and this will help in the output being ahead of the curve.
There is trouble ahead for creative agencies operating within the current decadent structures and some obsolete professionals who famously run them. However, for the new-age advertising professional, in terms of skills and attitudes not age, the future cannot be brighter. The chance to have some real skin in a dynamic game and get rewarded handsomely in terms of career and monetary growth. All interested must accelerate their learning curve, so that today is well within the grasp and tomorrow is an achievable reality.
As mentioned already, the biggest gainer will be the businesses and the brands that represent them to the customers. They will benefit from a genuine collective wisdom, powering them to fulfil the truest potential. If you are an adman unwilling to change then please do go away, for Accenture and its peers want to play.
(Shivaji Dasgupta is the Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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