Here’s the news. TV didn’t kill cinema. Video didn’t kill the radio star. The internet hasn’t killed print. There’s an interesting debate going on right now over at The Kaiser Edition about the future of agencies. I’m not sure I totally agree with The Kaiser’s central premise that content will kill advertising agencies, and that it will be briefless content that will do it. In fact I know I don’t. So I want to expand on a comment I left on one of Kaiser’s posts about it.
I strongly believe that there will always be a place for good authored, edited, designed, and directed content. And I still believe (as I know The Kaiser does) in agency’s ability to produce fantastic work. The examples I would single out are Gorilla and Poke’s work for Orange. Both much talked about but both examples of exceptional content production which could match anything out there. I have no idea how successful the latter was, but Gorilla has been fantastically effective, driving an 8% increase in sales of Cadbury’s core Dairy Milk brand since it launched. That happened because of great content production. And inspite of some cynicism I remember around launch that the ad didn’t appear to be selling chocolate in any overt way. This is the kind of transformational commercial effect which is possible when brilliant creative people do their thing, but as Rory Sutherland says this requires time, talent and money to achieve.
Undoubtedly the relationship between customer, content and brand has changed beyond all recognition. So agencies need to change, perhaps beyond recognition too. But I have faith that there are (some) people within agencies that understand this and I have faith in their ability to drive that change. Perhaps the agency which will pioneer a totally different way of working hasn’t been launched yet. Perhaps it has. Either way it’s not tremendously visible to some clients. So agencies need to work much harder. The Kaiser is right to raise this question. Personally I think what is needed is a quantifiable acceleration in the pace of this change. Perhaps some of the plannersphere should get together and do it ;o)