The rise of the short-term agency affair

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 12 February 2016

While marketers have traditionally gone for the big agency long-term relationship, it appears the trend in 2016 is for them to have a number of affairs on the side. 

Founder and CEO of TrinityP3 marketing management consultants, Darren Woolley, says the increased number and variety of specialist agencies flying under the radar is sometimes overlooked. But as brands get more savvy and look for more flexibility and more options, 2016 is set to be the year of the affair between marketers and more of these smaller, specialist brands.

Woolley points out that is not to say marketers are discarding their big agency brands for these smaller specialist agencies, but added that they are definitely adding more of these smaller specialists to their repertoire, if not their roster. 

He said it is not just the excitement of a new agency, it often can make good economic sense too. As an example, he said one client was recently quoted $200,000 by a larger well-known agency group to create a new app, but upon discovering a smaller mobile app specialist, got the exact same job done for less than $20,000.

TrinityP3 has kept an online register of agencies in the market place since 2007.

“Initially it was just the big agencies that you read about and hear about at the award shows, but in the past few years there has been a significant increase in small, specialist agencies that have real skill depth and speciality including disciplines such as neuro research to user design/UX agencies, to community management players, shopper marketing and behavioural marketing,” Woolley said.

“But interestingly, many marketers are acting like cheating spouses when discussing their agency roster often quoting that they have no more than two or three being their creative and media agencies. But with a little probing they often come clean admitting to dalliances with five, 10 or more specialist on the side.”

It is a trend that is sure to continue says Woolley, who sees these agencies offering a stop gap in the services of the more mainstream agencies.

“The issue for marketers is to make sure that if have the affair, that they make sure the protect themselves,” he added.

“Not everyone in the market can provide what they say they can and so markets need to be careful picking up a fling in a bar or club. Hopefully it will be a bit of fun and no one gets hurt, but increasingly it can end in tears.”

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