It’s a classic comeback in communications. And I’m not reviving retro or old-format ads. For one, ad agencies and their holding companies are developing parallel new models that run close to the old full-service agency format and closer align media, creative and specialist communications under one roof. Again, a big broadcaster will launch a general entertainment channel with programmes that cater to the 6-60-year range, even as audiences are fast fragmenting. This all-encompassing model evokes memories of the Doordarshan of yore.
Meanwhile, multinational advertisers continue to consolidate their creative or media planning and buying businesses with single or fewer ad agency networks across geographies. Single-agency windows promise advertisers cost- and time-saving synergies after the headache of dealing with multiple agency partners. Unilever Inc., for one, just consolidated its $100 million (Rs394 crore) global Signal brand account with Lowe Worldwide.
Big-budget advertisers are not only pooling their global ad budgets with one-agency network, they are also increasingly consolidating their advertising duties at the holding company level. The latter can then orchestrate best-of-breed skills for their client’s brand from their various member agencies globally across creative, media and specialist communications. Advertisers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Dell Inc. heard pitches for their ad business from holding companies globally. A step higher, an interesting ad model is now being tested by Procter and Gamble Inc. (P&G) in the US. According to media reports, each of the agency holding companies of Publicis Groupe, WPP Group, Omnicom Group which handle P&G’s ad duties, could emerge as single ad point of contact for a single P&G brand in this pilot.
It is possible that P&G may ultimately not pool “all” of its different ad duties for a brand with one holding company. But, since P&G itself recently appointed a brand franchise leader for each of its big global brands, we could see a single advertiser contact point dealing with a single agency contact in that market. I wonder if a single payment will be given to each holding company instead of fees to each contributing agency, should this ad model come to pass. Such models could encourage unbiased brand ideas/solutions across media platforms or true multimedia plans, since functional heads in an agency won’t be pressed to push their media platforms to increase their unit’s earnings. Media plans could get less TV heavy, and tinker a bit more with riskier, but more unfettered digital platforms. End result: holistic, integrated communications.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Comments are welcome at email@example.com