It doesn’t sound revolutionary as, surely, why would you not do that? But, if you then analyse WPP’s legacy model of agencies working ‘horizontally’ alongside each other you begin to question where the motives really lie. To me it feels very inward focussed and more about how you bring WPP agencies to operate together, and not about what is the right solution for the client. This thought is compounded by fact that each agency operates it’s own P&L (WPP has more than 160 P&Ls) and so all are effectively competing with the winners being those writing the biggest cheque to the parents. It appears that this could be about to change, but whether that means fragmentation of the group, or more consolidation, remains to be seen.
As an independent agency we have the enviable freedom of not only being able to say we get close to our clients, but actually doing it. It’s the fundamental ethos that runs through our agency. Put simply, if we don’t understand our clients, their objectives, their industries, their people, their politics and (vitally) their customers and audiences, we can’t do a good job. If we don’t do a good job, we may not get paid and we certainly won’t get any more work from that client. As repeat business is the lifeblood of agencies like ours, not getting close is not an option. In fact, we have had to turn down work if we have not been able to get as close we we think we need to. It’s just not worth it.
As well as the outcome benefits, it’s also a much richer experience for both us and our partner clients. We seem them warts and all and they see us in exactly the same light. They get access to all of our people (we don’t hide any gems of talent) and our people experience the world outside agency walls and making them, by default, more engaged with what they are creating. It’s win win.
Over the past 12 months, I and the team have spent a day in Wandsworth Prison, seen (literally first hand) how a donor lung is treated prior to transplantation and have been out on the road with a team selling investment products. Who said agency life is not glamorous? All have been fascinating and enriching and have had great results. Who knows where next… Can’t wait.