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Creative agencies undeterred by platforms and creators getting into creative solutions

More and more campaigns are being designed by in-house agencies, planners, publishers and production houses, finds out if this worries creative agencies and how they are reinventing themselves

Creative agencies were earlier responsible for A-Z communication coming out of a brand. However, with the growth of digital consumption, as well as the number of overall advertisers increasing, the situation is changing drastically. 

Today multiple start-ups have their own in-house teams developing campaigns for them. Print and TV news publishers are also designing campaigns for their advertisers. We have also seen production houses themselves taking care of creative needs when needed. So spoke to leading creative agencies to find out how these developments are impacting the creative agencies and what are they doing to stay relevant in such situations.  

Amer Jaleel

According to Amer Jaleel, Group Chief Creative Officer and Chairman of the MullenLowe Lintas Group, unlike before, many more things are needed to satisfy the appetite of the ‘new-age’ brands today. He said with everything operating at super-sonic speed, brands and marketing companies are asking for a glut of services to satisfy the new realities of financial delivery.

“I feel that the tinier, most minuscule needs of brands are being fulfilled by thousands of consultants and outfits and impatience with timelines is leading to ‘toh phir humhi kyon na kar lein’ attitude. Strategy and brand direction still remain the domain of the ‘core agency’. Everything else gets trampled over in the ‘fail fast’ economy. Creative input has now become the ‘creative unit’ and that needs to be released even before the brand custodian has a chance to see it,” Jaleel said. 

“If you go by trends, some new-fangled brands are buying ‘noticeability’ without paying attention to inventing and maintaining a genetic code for the brand. Shorter attention spans of audiences should lead to more in-depth investing in brand recognition, instead, it's leading to short-term thinking. Today a brand speaks from many mouths, and those in charge are not able to control all of those narratives. There should be one mouth from where the brand sings, if that sound, beat and modulation can be delicately crafted there is hope for that brand. The rest is just noise and clickbait,’ he said.

Shekhar Banerjee

Shekhar Banerjee, Chief Client Officer & Office Head - West, Wavemaker India, said that it takes a lot more to build brands than just mashing good looking product shots with some punchlines on top. "Advertisers who end up prioritising short-term goals, cost pressures and speed, over great creative ideas often end up with a product which is easily replaceable by consumers. Role of specialist and a strong brand is all the more important in today’s context when the market is more volatile".

Ketan Desai

As per Ketan Desai, Chief Operating Officer, Grey Group India, the clients that do end up going to in-house agencies are all small clients. "My take is that the best creative talent is not sitting with in-house agencies. The problem is that these agencies have taken away the younger talent from the industry because they end up paying more. Top-level talent will never end up sitting in an in-house set-up. The clients that do go to in-house agencies are all small spenders which is why they go for volume and value," he said.

According to leaders, the number of advertisers has grown over time and there is enough space in the market for everyone to grow. 

Rohit Ohri

Rohit Ohri, Chairman and CEO of FCB India, said the mega advertising spenders are still with creative agencies and this is why the recent phenomenon is not a major concern. 

Similarly, Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner of Enormous Brands, said the business of making content has exploded. “What used to take 25-30 crores to go to television is going on digital for 10-15 crores today. I don’t think agencies today can fulfil the demand in terms of human resources to produce that kind of content. So, I don’t think anyone is eating anyone else’s lunch right now, as there is way too much happening,” he explained. 

Ashish Khazanchi

According to Khazanchi, there are a fair number of campaigns that are getting made outside creative agencies. “However, we know the possibility with those films, graduating students also make ad films for projects. If you really want an impact and consistency in your communication across campaigns, 90% of those are still coming from agencies. Yes, there are some notable exceptions, however, most of the time, the most impactful campaigns are still coming from ad agencies,” he said. 

He added that the best talent remains with the creative agencies and if companies want to build a brand, long-term associations help the brand image get ingrained with the agency. 

Ohri of FCB India further stated that when a client has an in-house agency, the quality of talent is also a challenge there. As per him, creative people do not want to work for just one brand. “What advertising agencies give to creative people is an opportunity to work across different brands. Big advertisers want to work with the best talent,” he stated. 

Santosh Padhi

Citing similar thoughts, Santosh Padhi, aka Paddy, Chief Creative Officer, Wieden + Kennedy, India, stated there is a behavioural shift from clients. He said today all the new entrepreneurs especially the start-up and e-commerce businesses believe strongly in building brands and advertising. Hence from day one, they want a brand presence on the biggest screens in the country. 

“Everybody involved in the business is busy, we have also lost some talent to them (in-house teams). The fact of the matter is that, despite the growth in demand, no one is doing great work. Creative agencies, clients, start-ups, and tech giants, all are struggling to create impact. No one is making each-other jealous with their work or doing something that will blow minds. People are just ticking boxes. This industry is not about ticking boxes but about doing something magical,” he added.

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