Everybody seems to agree that the advertising and marketing industry needs to reinvent itself. A lot of blame is going toward the stodgy ad agencies that just don't seem to get it, but pretend that they do. Advertising agencies blame the clients who don't get it. And clients complain that they are paying a tremendous amount of money with very little to show for it.
In my mind, everybody seems to have a valid point. So why the status quo? Why isn't anybody fixing the broken model? Why don't the folks who "get it" do something about it?
So, if you don't mind, I'll take the lead on this one and attempt to instigate some change. I think we should start by taking a look at the process: How does a marketing campaign come to life?
Current state: Bottleneck
Usually, a campaign starts with a creative idea. The creative ideas are most commonly generated and administered by advertising agencies. So when brands come to them, it follows naturally that the agency will control the process -- everything surrounding the campaign will be dictated by the creative concept and the mandate is controlled by the ad agency.
This approach might have made sense before the digital revolution, when consumer culture was fabricated on Madison Avenue and mass communicated into our lives via one-way media channels. Today I think that the creative idea is more important than ever, because the sheer amount of information competing for consumers' attention means that in order to be heard you have to stand out in a big way. However, I think it is time to revise our view that the creative idea is the starting point of a campaign, dictating how and where it should be executed.
Different agencies have different kinds of expertise and if you want to achieve optimal results with your campaign, everyone needs to be onboard from day one. This means soliciting input and opinions from media planners, production people, public relations, brand people and anyone else affected by your campaign.
It also means that it is time for Madison Avenue to cede power, and for other players, traditionally used to a more passive role to stake their interests in the marketing campaign process.
Integrated campaigns (no, really)
So, how should the ideal marketing campaign be set up? I think the answer is much simpler than some would think: decentralize, integrate, and collaborate. Below are five steps for how to implement a successful campaign drawing on and integrating the resources inherently at hand.
In order for a truly integrated campaign to take form, the current model -- with the advertising agency serving as the central power -- has to be decentralized. Obviously, I am not proposing complete anarchy. Rather, there should be a system of checks and balances in place among the various ad agencies, media planners, digital production companies, PR agencies, and so on (more on this later).
But if we shift power from a central body with limited expertise and start empowering the many constituents that make up the whole, campaigns can be created more efficiently, at lower costs, with superior results. If the different marketing disciplines can work in unison rather than through a hierarchical chain based on how the agencies and companies have been contracted and subcontracted, then their true potential and ability for innovation can be unleashed.
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