OPINION: Stop the agency turf wars

Ian Perrin
By Ian Perrin | 24 June 2013
ZenithOptimedia chief executive, Ian Perrin.

One of the most successful and popular business books ever written is Tom Peters' In Search of Excellence. One of the themes is the importance of what he calls “sticking to your knitting”. It’s a bit of a hackneyed phrase, but an important one when considering the state of our industry.

I say so because the most common refrain I hear from the CMOs I speak to is that they are tired of the constant turf wars in which their agency partners partake. “The creative agency wants the media, the media agency wants the creative, the digital agency wants half of everything and I am never sure how far the PR agency wants to go” they say. “And all I really want is one solution to my marketing problem!”.

Rightly or wrongly, it is highly unlikely that the structure of the industry will ever return to the full service model it started out with, so one integrated solution may be difficult. We therefore need to think of better ways to solve the problem, and I believe the solution lies in Tom Peters’ advice. There is no way that creative agencies have the data, expertise, products, tools and talent to write media plans the way media agencies can. Equally, there is no way that media agencies have the ability to produce brilliant, brand-driven advertising that creative agencies can.

Channel planning is arguably a grey area, as both groups have a distinct and interesting take on how it can be developed. But arguing over the middle bit seems a little silly when important client relationships are at risk. Let’s just collaborate on it and move on.

However, in order do this we have to overcome our insecurities, self interests and petty closed-mindedness. Maybe it’s time for agency holding companies to stop paying bonuses for selling in other group agencies. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that chasing additional revenue may not be the best solution for clients. Maybe it’s time to create a more open source view to technology and the products and services we all offer. Maybe it’s time for creative agencies to focus on creative and media agencies to focus on media.

If we are to produce the best solutions for our clients, we need to stick to our knitting.

Ian Perrin
Chief executive

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