What is different about the new agency model?


The creative agency is constantly proclaiming that we are living in the ‘new’ agency model. 

It is an Eureka moment for everyone who is boasting to have cracked the code of this new model. And every model comes with its own lexicon. 

The formula is simple; just use a combination of the main buzzwords, such as data, innovation, tech and digitalisation; and the new model is ready to be revealed to the world.

Now what happens if I tell you that all this is unnecessary noise that can even become distortionary? 

What happens If we tell ourselves that despite all the euphoric words we use, business remains as usual to a large extent; and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.

Yes, we are faster. Yes, we can use AI tools. Yes, we have access to new sources of data. Yes, we can roll-out more efficiently. Yes, we are offering consumers a new experience. 

And yes, with the numerous platforms available, we are making a bigger splash. We are making a splash so big that no consumer can escape what our brands have to offer.

But what precipitates once this splash fades away? 

The idea, in its rawest form. But not any idea. A great idea derived from true human insight. 

We remain an industry that is driven by intriguing ideas, captivating imagination and human-sculptured creativity. 

According to Google Lab, the creative drives 70 percent of a brand campaign’s success, while media placements account for only 30 percent.  

Despite all the sophistication of how these ideas are shaped up and shared with the world, creativity continues to be the main driving force behind success.

Just look back at many of the timeless ads that are engraved in the subconscious of any adman. 

From Apple, Nike to Beetle, and many other iconic brands that have shaped our industry since its creation by a handful of madmen.

If we compare the 1980s ads to ones produced only yesterday, by the so-called new agency model, we will realise that they could have easily been produced forty years ago. 

Now I am not saying all this to say that our industry is not evolving. I am simply making the point that excessive packaging of our meaningful business and our real idea – is not only wasteful but will do more harm than good.

It will distract us from not only understanding the change that is happening, but also, from the consumers that are driving this change.

But despite the data revolution and large investments in automation, we are realising that the changing preferences and attitudes of consumers are most of the times not predictable. 

So where do we go from here?

Bilateral relations seem to be a reasonable approach. When multilateralism in international order reaches a cliff, states tend to go back to bilateral relations, and this was largely the case of trade agreements. 

The same applies to our industry. Given that consumers are at many times unpredictable, ad buyers want to spend on consumers that can be reached based on authenticated identity attributes.

I have learned that everything in our industry starts with people and their behavior. 

According to the Global Web Index, one-third of respondents say they discover brands using search engines, another third from ads on TV, and a third from social media ads.

However, only one-fourth end up buying brands they have seen advertised and much less (15 percent) feel represented in the advertising they see.

So the question becomes, how can we generate content for brands that people can relate to? 

One answer is that brands have to go local and approach audiences with nuance. For this to happen, a hybrid model that is global in expertise yet local in content is a good starting point.

By George Maktabi, Group CEO at Webedia Arabia