Neither is saying much about integration. Whatever happened to integration and synergy? You know, the "whole egg" theory.
Some confuse integration with simply acquiring your way into related disciplines like promotion, direct event marketing and on-line. That's a balance sheet strategy, employed by the Interpublics and Omnicoms to derive revenue from every facet of marketing services spending. As weight shifts from one discipline to another, profitability is not at risk.
This is good financial management that makes sense to Wall Street; an integrated marketing strategy it is not.
AGENCIES FOCUS ON MEDIA
Despite amassing a global array of marketing services capabilities, today's agency structures don't represent a fundamental change in how agency business is done. I guarantee you this: If advertising people are running the account, the strategic focus will be on building the brand via media expenditure. They can't help it; it's what they know. It's how they make money. The business of integrating is left to the client.
Where I toil, way below the purview of Madison avenue boardrooms, I see a different view of the future.
Right now the client is the integrator because the marketing services industry tends to offer a menu of tactical options. Marketing services has not yet evolved to deliver the true, integrated services necessary to support brand strategies. It's not as simple as one-stop shopping. It's approaching business in a fundamentally different way.
The agency of the future will not be an advertising agency but a marketing agency. The walls will come down because the portfolio strategy of separate units won't serve the client effectively. Agencies of the future will have account groups managed by generalists who direct a mix of complementary specialists from all walks of the marketing landscape. They will solve problems and seize opportunities for their clients, regardless of the discipline or form. They will be media neutral and think in terms of the most efficient way to build business. They will also enrich themselves by offering a relevant service.
When you visit this agency of the future, you will not find separate marketing disciplines on each floor, but non-tactical structures, perhaps organized by demographic groupings. When the Mountain Dew brand team visits, for example, they may get out on the "Males 12-to-18" floor. They would meet with the account team to discuss how to reach this elusive audience with a seamless, integrated message and strategy in which the sales force, bottler, retailer and consumer will all share and participate. Their plan will include trade management, sales incentives, consumer promotion, local events, new media and yes, broadcast advertising-all beneath a cohesive umbrella. And the brand's managers will only have to go to one meeting!
The new agency configurations I'm reading about today are not likely to be a part of this future because they still see the hub as traditional advertising and below-the-line business as complemen- tary "tools." Marketing campaigns-not advertising campaigns-are going to emerge that include something for every link in the distribution chain. Advertising Age will be renamed Marketing Age. The American Association of Advertising Agencies will merge with the Promotion Marketing Association of America and the Direct Marketing Association to form the "Marketing Association."
When this future arrives-and it will arrive-the client community will rejoice in the strategic elegance and executional simplicity of having focused agency partners that can drive the entire integrated campaign.
Mr. Steinberg is president, Source Marketing, Westport, Conn. ([email protected]).