Advertising Week

Future for Agencies and Clients Will Focus on Partnerships

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Andrew Bruce, CEO of Publicis Communications North America
Andrew Bruce, CEO of Publicis Communications North America Credit: David Hall
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Partnerships between agencies and clients in which both entities are working toward shared objectives are key for the industry's future, said Andrew Bruce, CEO of Publicis Communications North America, during a panel at Advertising Week.

Mr. Bruce added that a "partnership feels so much more open" and allows the agency to become part of a client's world and ambitions. "It's a sign that we are more than an advertising agency and we are bringing more to [the relationship]," he said.

For example, he said Publicis Groupe has an opportunity to align itself with Walmart, which is "daunting, but exciting." This summer, Publicis announced that it will create a new entity to house Walmart's U.S. creative and in-store advertising, along with other pieces of business that do not involve advertising.

DDB Chicago CEO Paul Gunning spoke on the panel about new Omnicom Group agency dedicated exclusively to McDonald's, saying the review process involved four main themes: the consolidation of marketing services across Omnicom agencies, access to data, breaking down silos within Omnicom and McDonald's and transparency on both the agency and client sides of the business.

One of the reasons the relationship with McDonald's is unique, according to Mr. Gunner, is because "the client is willing to transform and is transforming as much as the holding company." He said the agency is looking to make a massive impact on McDonald's and its sales, and in order for that to happen, the fast-feeder, Omnicom and outside partners, like Google and Facebook, "need to all work together to even have a shot at making a big pivot in this brand's history."

Vik Kathuria, head of global agency partnerships at Oracle Marketing Cloud, said agencies have to bring the client and consumer into the center of their thinking and emphasize nimble, efficient strategies. "It's not about the past, present or future; it comes down to structuring the organization in a way that benefits the consumer," he said, adding that Publicis' new operating model could be headed in the right direction.

Last week, Publicis announced that the North America region will operate under a single P&L for all of its creative agencies as part of its continuing effort to breakdown silos. Mr. Bruce said on the panel that the new model helps with collaboration because it makes the group put the right people in the room to solve specific problems or take advantage of opportunities for clients.

The future of agencies may also rely on an "Uber-type model," where people come together from all different agencies or offices, said John Gerzema, CEO of BAV Consulting. He said small and big agencies may eventually all work together and people may not wind up working in the same office everyday.