Before we attempt to answer such an existential question, let us take a quick look at how consumers have evolved in their habit to consumer messaging and content.
Consumers are watching TV on iPads, listening to the radio on phones, reading the newspaper on desktops and buying everything from everywhere. You could say they have ceased to exist in silos of TV, Print, Digital, Retail, Radio, OOH, Web, Mobile, etc.
Now, let us look at the multitude of specialised partners who are attempting to connect with these consumers. We have an army of infinite silos of agencies specialising in Creative, Media, Digital, Social, OOH, Activation, Experiential, Web, Mobile, PR... the list seems to be endless. But the irony of advertising today is that to reach out to a consumer who is no longer consuming content and messaging in silos, we still have professionals who are working in silos. The conundrum then is how will these diversely fragmented silos promise to deliver unified communication?
The more I see this situation, more I am convinced that this is a good time to ask ourselves this question- ‘Who are we, and what is our purpose of existence?’In a way, I am fortunate to see the gravity of this problem at its very executional level. As part of a global creative post production studio, I am interacting with brands, creative agencies, and at times, media agencies. All posing the same challenge of creating impactful communication to consumers - but sharing the brief to us in silos.
Brands approach us from the idea POV; creative agencies approach us from execution of idea; and media agencies approach it from amplification and ROI. All have valid but different objectives to chase. Somewhere in this, I see the adage - ‘missing woods for the trees’ - coming alive.
The examination which we as marketing professionals should conduct is - ‘What is the consumer insight? Accordingly, what is our communication strategy going to be?’. Only then, can we perfect the idea and see through the execution to implementation of that same idea across multiple touch points.
Rewind back around 20 years, and the single window solution of Account Planners, Creative Directors, Studio Heads, and Media Teams sitting under the same roof and working under a common leadership comes to your mind as a possible solution to the problem, mentioned above. The concept of what was termed as Advertising Agency is essentially vertical specialists working under one roof reporting to one team and ensuring they all play their part to perfection of delivering a unified communication to consumer.
Fragmentation has led us to many champions but no single captain of the team.
Each unit is working in silos and delivering to their best, but no one is harnessing the collective knowledge and interplay of these units to derive efficiencies, synergy, and hence, a lasting impression in the mind of the targeted consumer. I believe we have driven the ‘Ivory Towers’ syndrome of specialised units way too far and it has started damaging the one team, one vision approach for a brand. This is damaging marketers rather than helping them. In the short term, they may have gained a better deal on agency remuneration by playing this divide and rule approach - but in the long run, brand communication has taken a beating.
To conclude, marketers and agencies are an integral part of one ecosystem which should be unified and not siloed. I want to sum up with the above image, which is done by one of our retouchers - Alexis Goodwin from Shanghai, which beautifully narrates the pain of fragmentation robbing way the soul of a body. Let us keep the ‘communication’ function as one, and not fragment it into units anddepartments. Hoping that the answer to the question - ‘Who Am I?’, is a resounding statement that we are the architects of communication for a brand and not individual shops making our revenues.