Advertising Agencies – let’s call them that for now – come in a myriad of sizes and specialisms. And there seems to be an explosion of articles extolling the virtues of smaller shops.
Ad Age has published a Jeff Rosenblum article titled, “Small Agencies Crush Big Ones: It’s Not Even Close.” A recent Joe Parrish piece explains, “Why big brands are increasingly putting small agencies on their radar.” And David Bome asks, “Why choose a smaller agency over a larger one?”
There will even be a whole USA Conference dedicated to the subject in July this year. The Ad Age Small Agency Conference takes place in Marina Del Rey on Tuesday 17th July and Wednesday 18th July 2018. ‘As your agency continues to become more successful,’ says Ad Age, ‘it will need to confront the headaches of larger groups, such as how to maintain a small agency culture, how to service a swelling stable of brands and how to manage conflicts.’
Highly respected adman Lee Clow will be speaking. Lee is Global Director of media arts at TBWA Worldwide and Chairman of TBWA/Media Art Lab. Lee’s work with Apple, Pepsi and Adidas is legend and his part in the meteoric rise of Chiat/Day from an LA downtown hotel to become one of the 10 largest global networks perhaps tells us two things about small v large agencies.
Firstly, it shows that, whatever size we are, innovative strategic thinking and disruptive creative output is essential to the success of both agencies and their clients. Secondly, it shows that you only get big by being better. And no agency, however much it may like working out of a hotel or being ‘boutique’ or small, can stand still. Great agencies grow into big ones.
Before driving his agency forward to become one of the world’s largest, David Ogilvy famously said, “Creativity is not a function of size.” And he was right. So, what might the delegates of the Ad Age Small Agency Conference be learning?
There is no doubt that clients of larger agencies are subject to paying for departments or management structures that they don’t need. In general, agency start-ups are run by highly-talented and clever people. In a smaller shop clients get to work directly with these people who, if trusted and listened to, can make a hugely positive impact on a client’s brand or business. Service levels in smaller agencies are often better, with less bureaucracy and better structures. Costs in a small agency are more competitive.
Of course, the big shops are great, too. And for those clients with very substantial budgets there is an element of client reassurance, given the available resources and international footprint. But marketing is in the middle of meteoric change and technology actually negates the need for many of the offices, people and process that used to be sold to clients as essential. And everything comes at a cost that not all clients are prepared to pay.
Advertising agencies, integrated marking communications agencies, boutiques, digital agencies and global networks all have their place in the media village. But undoubtedly clients are moving away from a one-shop solution, preferring to appoint specialist agencies, which then collaborate together on behalf of their clients to deliver the brand objective.
At LAW Creative we work with blue chip clients in the hotel, leisure and automotive industry right across the globe. With 50 people based in three countries we offer Smart Thinking across Strategy, Creative, Technology, Content and Data. We’re not a conglomerate but we are passionate about creating award-winning work that delivers for our clients and we are constantly collaborating with partner agencies to achieve a cost-effective, best-in-class global service for our clients.
LAW will be at the Ad Age Small Agency Conference. We already know how ‘punching above your weight’ delivers for clients on many levels. Let’s see what other people in the industry will add to what is always a pretty hot topic.
… it’s worth thinking about.