Big clients are kissing big agencies goodbye

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BART CLEVELAND: A lot of big clients are hiring smaller agencies to handle their business because of the speed and lack of red tape they offer. Large agencies that are owned by holding companies are surely feeling the effects of this shift of perspective. MMB in Boston picked up Subway when they fired Omnicom Group agency Goodby Silverstein. How did MMB land Subway? They were already working for Subway on a project basis. This is not a trend it is the way things will be working from now on. Even large advertisers are beginning to avoid the monster that has been created in our industry by the conglomerate holding companies. Advertising just doesn’t work well when fashioned like its GM. Come to think of it, GM doesn’t work so well that way either.

The fact that clients are recognizing that smaller is better will probably overhaul the way large agencies do things. Clients today are looking for nimble, focused service. They expect the senior management of their agency to work on their business. They are willing to walk away the perceived security of the behemoth agency to get it.

Corporately held agencies are being seen as an older model these days that are not as effective as it was believed size could make it. From a creative point of view they haven’t helped our industry do better work either. The trend of clients moving to smaller agencies can be a very good thing for advertising’s creativity. The large agencies are not going to sit still and let significant pieces of business walk away for long. They are going to adapt more to the model that smaller agencies are following. They should become more focused on the work and less on their corporate approval process.

If you are a smaller agency who is doing project work for a large advertiser you could be next in line to pick up the entire account. The job smaller agencies have as they land these accounts is to not let size recreate the same problem that large agencies are having today. If we can remain pure to what makes us attractive to these accounts and large agencies can reform themselves our industry is going to be more stable overall.
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