Single-agency strategy does not fit all, IAB panelists say

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New York—In the new age of digital media, marketing strategy needs to be orchestrated, but agency executives on a panel Monday morning at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX Conference & Expo 2.7 diverged on how to find the perfect harmony.

According to David Verklin, CEO of Carat Americas, the integration of marketing campaign strategy, content and channels can only be accomplished with a single agency enterprise with one P&L. “At the end of the day, you can only take it so far with two separate agencies,” Verklin said. “When you have two separate agencies, it’s not integration, it’s synchronization.” That is why Carat formed a single enterprise of Carat Fusion and Carat USA two months ago, he said.

Carla Hendra, co-CEO of Ogilvy North America, agreed, saying Ogilvy combined P&Ls a long time ago. She added, “We have to think in new ways how to be organized for our clients.” In the digital era, “nothing fits into a neat little box anymore,” she said

Hendra said that no matter how an agency is organized, the central concern still has to be the customer. “Bill Clinton, when he got elected, said, ‘It’s the economy, stupid,” Hendra said. “Well, for us, ‘It’s the customer, stupid.’ ”

Another agency chief, Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo and chief innovation officer at Publicis Groupe Media, said that “there is no one model” that works best. He said that while there are benefits to full integration on the agency side, there are drawbacks as well, including the fact that integrated shops sometimes do not “move fast enough.”

Tobaccowala said that, ultimately, whether an agency is integrated or not, it still comes down to the fact that “people with the disproportionate share of talent will win.”

—Carol Krol

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