Making agencies ready for the new decade

VARCA: Agencies should be ready with leaner structures, have a strategy for new media and retain their talent pool as they compete in the new decade in a whole new business environment.

The future of advertising agencies lies in retaining the right talent and making the profession more lucrative, said Aditya Birla Management Corporation group corporate services director Rajiv Dube.
Speaking at the GoaFest 2011 Advertising Conclave on “Are agencies ready for the new decade?”, Dube said agencies should become communication consultants again “as well as change agents with leaner structures, and stakeholders in the advertiser’s business”. They should also become more entrepreneurial as holding companies are less likely to take risks.

Dube encouraged the agencies to ask for more in terms of partnership with their clients. He implied that clients should be flexible enough to support agencies during economic downfalls.
“Advertisers should become strategic partners, and not just a source of creative inputs”, said Dube. “They should understand the business and help clients understand the business of consumers.”

Dube emphasised the need for investment in relationship building and talent nurturing as the advertisers don’t want to deal with new sets of people all the time. He said that agencies should help advertisers look at new modes of communication to reach out to the audience and senior management should be involved in interactions with the advertiser beyond the early days of winning the account.

“The world of advertising revolves around the advertiser, not the agency. Agencies should get over their self-obsession. Please factor this into your plans,” Dube advised.

The session was initiated by Goafest 2011 chairman Srinivasan Swamy, who began his address by comparing old agencies with the new ones.

“Previously, agencies acted as consultants. Now they’ve become agents. Consultants add value, agents conduct transactions. This is not a sound development,” Swamy said.

Swamy also expressed his concern over the splitting up of media agencies, “Agencies offered an integrated and specialised service. Now this is getting disintegrated. The old configuration is affecting the profitability of agencies and is not effective in the current times,” he said.
Dube, however, felt that the media and advertising divide was a healthy way forward. He lauded the creation of specialist agencies that focus on specific communications - digital, outdoor, et al.

One common suggestion made by Swamy and Dube was better remuneration for advertisers. Both said that agencies were not paying well and, hence, the right talent was shifting away from the industry.

Maruti Udyog managing executive officer Mayank Pareek urged agencies to be ready in dealing with the new media. With the advent of social media and various other touch points, he felt agencies needed to work harder.

Pareek also underlined the need to develop tools that can measure effectiveness and understand customers in a better.

The topic of responsible creativity found a common ground with Dube and Pareek. Both of them highlighted India’s growing stature across the globe and, hence, the need to be more responsible in terms of propagating the right values.

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