Fast Strategy, Fast Creative?

Do you remember a while back the selling point of every agency was ‘integrated’? Everyone was promoting the interconnectedness of their business and their ability to be a one stop shop.

Where are we now? We still have specialist agencies with maybe a little more integration but there are few agencies I can think of who are genuinely ‘integrated.’

I believe there are two drivers of this, one positive, one negative.
Postive – There remains true value in expertise and clients know this. They get the best advertising work from advertising agencies, media planning from media agencies, digital from digital agencies etc. You *can* bring them together but…
Negative – …too often agencies either don’t have the will or the respect for other disciplines to really bring the work together. So rather than allowing digital to take the lead on one pitch, experience on the next, media on the next and so on everything focuses around the original money-making discipline of the agency. The answer’s a pop-up, what’s the question?

For these reasons I think ‘integrated’ has fallen out of favor. But something has to take its place, marketing abhors a vacuum. So what’s the latest positioning?

‘We do things fast’ ‘We turn around creative in 2 weeks’ ‘We’ll give you a brand strategy in 3 days’

I find it a little boring. Both because that’s just how I have always had to work at Imagination and because I don’t think this is a selling point. Why?

If you know your client you damn well should be able to turn around both strategy and creative fast. And if you have good strategists and creatives you damn well should be able to turn around *good* strategy and *good* creative fast. And frankly even if it is a new client agencies shouldn’t be taking 2 months to come back with something, 2 weeks is what a client would accept in my experience. So no revolution here.

I do acknowledge that if the problem is a knotty one, eg a brand repositioning, revisiting a campaign to drive greater sales or a new account win then you aren’t going to get much worth looking at in 2 weeks. It’s not impossible, but you need more thinking and creative time than that to solve business and communications issues. So you shouldn’t be promising the world but you also should be getting off your backside and doing your job.

There are times we can be guilty of ‘busy work’, particularly as strategists, testing hypotheses we are 99% there on with the data we already have as an example. Don’t get me wrong, I would love more time for thinking, researching, talking to the audience to make sure my ideas are right, I’ve sometimes been told to put together strategies in 24 hours from scratch – not my favorite and not necessarily my best ever work – but in our new world, where data-hounds are popping out ideas without insights at top speed we need to up our game and work faster and smarter.

I believe both are possible.

And I’m looking forward to seeing how long this particular positioning approach lasts.


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