PERSPECTIVES: Not all are created equal

By Mike Rebelo, CEO, Publicis Groupe Australia & NZ | 3 December 2019
Mike Rebelo

This first appeared in the AdNews 2019 Annual edition. Subscribe here for your copy.

What are we going to say about 2020? That the traditional holding company model needs to be replaced? That consultancies will ruin the creativity we’ve worked for? That the end of the ad world is nigh? Bad news sells. And generalisations are easy. Too easy.

What we have to do in 2020 is to stop generalising. It’s lazy and it’s inaccurate.

What we have to make known is that the industry has evolved now and will continue to go through a lot of change. Each agency and each network will adapt to meet those changes in its own time and its own way. And that’s appropriate.

There is no universal advertising or media agency model. There are mature agencies and young start-ups. Network agencies and indies. There are some who might be totally well adapted already. They might be thriving. There might be others still trying to work it out, still battling with old ways of thinking, still trying to be all things to all people. They’re likely to find 2020 just as challenging as the year that preceded it.

Not all creative agencies are created equal. Some are still trying to work out how they fit into this new ad-world order. Some are wrestling with the conservative appetite of the market, others are seeing that as an opportunity. Not all have the talent, the ideas and rigour to help clients take the leaps of faith needed. They might fall by the wayside. And that’s appropriate too. Some are clear on their purpose, product and their creative agenda. Some are not. And all of this is true whether you’re an independent or a multinational. Game-changing ideas are agnostic to ownership structures.

Yes, some traditional holding companies are going to struggle. Monoliths are slow to move and difficult to budge. Others are likely to find the grass a lot greener in 2020, because they’ve already accelerated and changed into connected platforms. They’ve already built a structure that has the client at the core, cultivated adaptability and the agility to flex, and thrive in, a shifting landscape. They have already become what 2020 demands of them.

There’s not a single threat called consultancies. One enemy to obsess over like some did in 2019. Again, not all things are created equal, just ask the consultancies themselves. Yes, they’ve entered our industry, which I find reassuring, but each has a different proposition or approach to the marketing sector. There’s one or two that I’m keeping an eye on and there are others I won’t be losing sleep over.

When it comes to the industry changes that are occurring, and who is best placed to navigate that, we have to be far more forensic and less general about our commentary, observations and predictions.

The one thing our industry can’t withstand is a lack of trust in what we do. We will be doing our industry a massive service if we realise that not all things are created equal, and we and they assess us one by one. 

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