Agencies not being able to promote themselves has historically been a running joke in the industry. Clunky websites filled with an alphabet soup of advertising jargon often come to mind. But as new business increasingly becomes more competitive, the famed mantra “the work, the work, the work” alone isn’t cutting it.
Agency mega-mergers, encroaching business consultancies and a burgeoning number of startups have led to more shops chasing less work. Jay Pattisall, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, said the first half of this year was particularly tough on agencies, given more projects, slashed budgets and fewer large retainer contracts shrinking the pitch pile. In addition, clients have become more reticent in allowing shops to publicize account moves and the work agencies do for them, forcing shops to become more proactive when it comes to lead generation.
“Agencies can no longer rely on their creative reputations to speak for them,” he said.
So increasingly, they are speaking for themselves. Whether it’s through social outlets such as TikTok and LinkedIn, self-funded podcasts or redesigns, shops are striving to carve out their own clear identity, personality and point of view. The ultimate goal is to catch the attention of busy client chief marketing officers, who, in the words of Matt Ryan, CEO of consultancy Roth Ryan Hayes, “generally have a low awareness of agency brands.”
Below are some of the newer means agencies are trying to go after prospects by showcasing their thinking in addition to their work.
Earlier this year, Mischief @ No Fixed Address received over 2 million views on a 15-second video of its head of development, Oliver McAteer, reacting to a TikToker praising a Tinder campaign led by the independent agency.