The Dramatic Change in Agency Collaboration Practices

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NOELLE WEAVER: This past weekend I attended AIGA NY’s MOVE3 summit. Under the Influence featured some of today’s top motion-based artists and designers including Smith&Foulkes, Laurie Anderson, Jean Paul Goude and Adult Swim talking about the types of art and media that influences their work and ideas.

As one might guess, in attendance were quite a few veterans from some of this industry’s best known design shops, production, animation and interactive studios as well as forward thinking companies including MTV and Apple.

But if there was any one thing I took away from this conference, it was this: The way agencies collaborate with others is changing.

Many of the vendor’s I spoke with explained how the way they were working with agencies was drastically changing. It used to be that creative teams from big agencies would come to them with a full script and looked to them to make the idea better. But today, with lapsed understanding of how technology works and how to tell a story beyond the average 30 second spot, they’re seeing more and more requests to create the actual idea.

Some I talked with said they found themselves working more and more with the client directly. As if the agency acted as a ‘broker’ to introduce their clients to the right shop who could deliver the goods.

Others, mentioned that they’re even struggling with what to call themselves these days as the word ‘agency’ has become threatening [even though more and more creative shops now find themselves in the position of having full account and strategy teams in addition to creative].

The idea of collaboration has intensified since the arrival of the internet and many of the artists speaking at MOVE3 discussed how, through collaboration with others, two separate ideas converged to create a bigger, more powerful idea.

But one has to wonder if our own industry has fully recognized the power of working this way yet? If the agency develops the brief + strategy but not the creative or the story. Then who owns the idea? And whose name, ultimately goes on that coveted gold award?
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