Why Big ATL Agencies Can’t Crunch Numbers
5th April, 2013
Walking into a fabulous advertising agency the other day, I will admit, I was envious. Envious of the beautiful office building, elevators, stairwell, art work, great tea – even the receptionist wooed us with her timely wit. There were whispers of “…and they also have a free cafeteria!” when we entered the large doors into a reception area that is bigger than the entire Slingshot office. It was hard not to be smacked in the face by success the moment you walked through the front door.
And yet, the meeting with over 15 bright young things – planners, account managers and creatives left me feeling slightly underwhelmed when it came to brainstorming ideas for driving additional revenue to a project and it got me thinking about sponsorship and the future of the agency model (which I will also be discussing at the ESA Summit, read more here). Now I am not saying that all creative media and marketing agencies and the people that work in them can’t understand sponsorship – many of them can. The point really is that they don’t have to. They don’t spend an agonising amount of the day working client budgets to meet targets through multiple revenue streams. They don’t spend hours on the phone negotiating media rights and convincing brands to provide free products in order to drive the event forward. They don’t have midnight calls with overseas clients on how to then find a way to pay for the distribution of said product. Unfortunately, this is my job. Again, cue my envy.
Yet envy aside, I have come to the conclusion that the thousands of hours I have spent agonising over a successful route has inevitably given me a very strong aptitude for understanding how to generate revenue – effectively and sustainably. These hours spent have gifted me the ability to valuate a platform fairly quickly, just by a call, because this is what I do – day in and day out.
I can whole heartedly admit that I cannot come up with the creative idea. I cannot even draw stick people properly. Of course, I recognise the huge value in the idea and implementation – but I think the tables are turning.
The Mad Men days where creativity is king is difficult to validate in an era where ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ has over 520 million views. Where budget cuts, the economic recession, and overall increased scrutiny on budgets continues to rise. I think it is time to recognise that it is now the era of ROI.
As I am in the business of ROI, I am sure you’d expect me to say that. However, look around you – it really is everywhere. From the daily Groupons, to free content on ITV player, value is something we are all looking for and delivering that value can be a difficult challenge.
I truly believe the way forward is through building partnerships – creating true synergies between organisations, understanding all parties objectives, and working together to reap mutual rewards. The shift has already begun with major brands pulling funding out of the major kit deals in favour of smaller, more integrated campaigns and partnerships. It can also be seen with the huge success of our own agency, which has doubled in the last year purely through the increase of new incoming business. People are beginning to recognise (whether forced or not) the value of building lasting commercial partnerships.
Now I am not claiming that I am the next Sir Martin Sorrell, David Ogilvy, or William Bernbach – but I do see a future that features free meals for Slingshot employees.