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Do CMOs like it under the same roof?

When top chief marketing officers from around the region were asked their thoughts on dealing with integrated agencies, it sparked plenty of debate.

Ziad Ghorayeb, Regional MD for Dentsu Creative, MENA, asked a select group of CMOs about the need for more collaboration among these type of agencies. “There’s a lot of silo thinking and unfortunately this even happens within the same divisions. You want a single point of contact, and the ability for agencies to get you the right talent irrespective of where they sit in the network, to be able to deliver”.

When asked their preference for an integrated agency or partnering with a handful of smaller ones, CMOs were divided in their opinions. Samuel Dulka, Associate Vice President of Global Business Marketing at the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “What we have done over the last eight years is gone through different types of journeys of seeing how we can use integrated agencies versus standalone agencies. I will hands down say when we have agencies that come from a network that try to bring multiple disciplines in together it does not work”.

His alternative is to go through tenders at a bespoke level across different market and audience type and discipline. “That’s the only we have found to get the right level of skill set in each market and against each audience. That’s a procurement challenge for us but it’s much more effective than us trying to take it on brand agencies at scale,” Dulka added. “We have had to pivot the other way”.

Jana Pedramnia, Marketing Lead at Kimberly Clark, said some agencies present themselves as integrated but outsource some of the functions to others. “I like it when the partner agency has the knowledge and skill to know when to bring another agency in. I don’t want to run around for different niche jobs. I prefer when they bring in the right experts they need to partner with”.

Lewis Naim, Marketing and Brand Director at Majid Al Futtaim, explained that by being across so many industries (malls, retail, entertainment etc) can be problematic when dealing with a single agency. “We’ve gone both ways at MAF. We are in a lot of different industries which require different skill sets. Not all agencies can offer and can serve these types of businesses concurrently”.

But dealing with one agency can at times be smooth when compared to juggling multiple agencies. “This puts a lot of pressure on your own team trying to manage many different agencies, and remember that agencies have a lot of turnover internally. You get comfortable with someone and they move on and then you have to do that all over again”.

The conclusion was that there is no one-size-fits-all policy and that each project needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. “It depends on what kind of business you are in and what your needs are. We might bring everything together under one agency creatively but then try to get a bit more democracy as to who they use,” added Naim. The CMO roundtable was sponsored by Dentsu Creative and took place at the Dubai Lynx festival of creativity.