Digital Conference 2010

Agency Collaboration More Important Than Expertise, Say Marketers

In an Increasingly Fragmented Media World, There Must Be a Focus on Account Management

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NEW YORK ( -- Marketers at the second day of Ad Age's Digital Conference said they could care less whether it's a digital or traditional shop that takes the lead on a marketing campaign, as long as they figure out how to orchestrate campaigns consistently and collaboratively.

Lucas Watson, Gayle Troberman and Wayne Arnold discuss how media fragmentation is impacting -- and growing -- clients' agency rosters.
Lucas Watson, Gayle Troberman and Wayne Arnold discuss how media fragmentation is impacting -- and growing -- clients' agency rosters. Credit: Gary He
One P&G marketer who sounded a bit sick of the scramble voiced that it's more about who's prepared to do the work well, regardless of name or function of agency.

"If [agencies] get out of the control game and get into the only thing that matters is building the brand -- if you have the humility and courage to do that, you have the ability to be more successful," said Procter & Gamble's Lucas Watson, global team leader, digital business strategy.

Mr. Watson made his remarks during a panel discussion on how media fragmentation is affecting -- and growing -- clients' agency rosters. Other panelists included Microsoft Chief Creative Officer Gayle Troberman, TBWA Chief Digital Officer Colleen DeCourcy, and Profero's co-founder, Wayne Arnold.

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Agencies' new life-skill
Still, TBWA's Ms. DeCourcy observed that in her experience, clients prefer to have a lead shop looking after the business, as well as other agencies on the account. "Clients are looking for an agency that looks to play a leadership role," she said. "I think there is a long enough continuum of skills that we need partners but also a lead agency."

"Without a lead agency, there is complete chaos," she added later.

Ms. Troberman agreed that a big multinational like Microsoft's requires a big agency that can handle a range of functions, even with little notice. In a marketing world with increasingly more agencies to handle digital, social media and mobile, one agency needs to manage all those moving parts.

"The single most important piece for success for agencies we work with is actually orchestration," she said. "Account management is the most important function in our agencies, not creative."

For Microsoft, with numerous types of talent at the table, it's up to the account teams to be able to orchestrate artfully. "That is really the new life-skill of agencies," she said.

Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace Credit: Gary He
Later in the day, Brian Wallace, VP-media, digital marketing and social media for BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion, unleashed his frustration with the silos in marketing and at agencies in particular. "We've organized ourselves against the screens," he said. "They are just screens. The connecting point is digital. It's going to connect screens -- I'm not sure agencies understand this."

"Silos threatened to increase," Mr. Wallace said. "Like lawyers, [agencies] create their own language. They do it on purpose to create a level of specialization in that category and then you have to pay people more for service. Social media does this and, again it creates and reinforces the silos."

To get integrated marketing ideas, Mr. Wallace said Research in Motion sends one brief to all its agencies at the same time and then they're tasked with working together. He added that agency compensation also relies on how well individual shops collaborate. "Though there's always an agency -- creative usually -- that wants to be the lead," he said.

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