The traditional ad agency will go the way of the dinosaur, and consultancies will be the mile-wide asteroid that wipes them out. So apologies to every starry-eyed kid who wanted to be just like Don Draper. The ’60s (and the ’80s) are over.
The barrier to entry to create and to invent for the digital and physical world is lower now than it has ever been. This was a boon for agencies for quite a while and they could find new (and cheap) talent to throw bodies at accounts for more and more deliverables. But with the ease of use of creative tools and the ubiquity of resources (Google, really), the skill gap has been dramatically lowered. We’re at a point where companies start questioning the value of going to an agency for creative work. These traditional agencies face competition from brand managers and consultancies that are deeply embedded in their client’s operations and bring more to the table than just creative output. The party’s over now—and good riddance to it.
These consultants may know everything from a company’s KPIs, the customer perspective and audience segmentation, to the number of bathrooms their client has out of a franchise in Wichita, but it’s this attention to detail and data that allows for a results-first approach to making recommendations that bleeds into the creative output. They go beyond making creative stuff that the client can use to advertise. The consultancy is a model of true partnership in reality, not just in a pitchdeck.
The consultancy does what the agency failed to do: adapt their business model and business practices to the digital age. The traditional agency model, with all its sluggish practices and its poisonous culture, will now die; it must if these legendary firms from Advertising Past are to live-on.