14 Jan


Creating agility through agency relationships

Dario Pagani, Director of Brand Services at Ingenuity

Agile, agile, agile, agile. We must be nearing the point at which hearing that word becomes nausea inducing, right? I remember reading about this new conceptual working method in a 2015 McKinsey report, and yet it’s still not widely adopted… so, why hasn’t it been relegated to the graveyard of marketing guff.

Well, because despite what people might think, ‘agile’ doesn’t mean faster. Well, it doesn’t just mean faster.

When Sorrell departed WPP in a somewhat acrimonious fashion, he immediately reassessed. He took what was working and disregarded what wasn’t. It was a pure optimization piece, and what was left can be summed up with two descriptive words: ‘faster’ and ‘better’.

It’s easy to get caught up with notions of blockchain, bitcoin and VR when in reality, for 99% of marketers, these things have zero relevance to their day job. Do the basics ‘faster’ and ‘better’ than your counterpart and you’ll gain market share. In the words of VCCP’s Sergei, “simples”.

The outside world is changing faster than ever before, but in contrast, the fundamentals of consumption habits change at a glacial pace (that’s the nature of evolution). Good strategy and clever creative, delivered in a timely fashion are still the core drivers of marketing success. So, if you can deliver these fundamentals in a rapid and scalable way, you’ll add more value to the end consumer.

There are many fantastic examples of smart business leaders who used the paralysis caused by Covid-19 to accelerate their desire to work ‘faster and better’. Take Heinz To Home – up and running within weeks not months. Or Direct Line, who performed more experiments on its website in 12 weeks at the height of the UK crisis than it had done in the previous three years.

The concept of smaller, cross-discipline teams with fewer silos is being increasingly reflected in the agency landscape and in fact, the out-sourced agency model can be used to accelerate a brands agile ambitions – not hamper them as the traditional thinking may assume.

The nature of ‘big business’ means more stakeholders, more opinions and more process – all of which hinder agility. An example I used previously was Heinz to Home – they enlisted 3 separate agencies to deliver their D2C ambitions because they knew that in order to capture the cultural zeitgeist of home delivery/subscription – they needed to get an MVP to market ASAP. And they did.

We interviewed Andrew Barnard, co-founder of creative agency 20something, also known as Barney, about his views on the changing supplier ecosystem and how they are helping clients get ‘faster and better’. The ‘faster’ comes from their stripped down operating model. They are able to punch well above their weight because every team is bespoke for the client’s needs and they don’t waste budget on stuff that doesn’t add value. No layers of account management. No marble staircase. No Kopi luwak coffee (that exorbitantly expensive cat shit coffee). You get a small, senior team. The A team. And what happens to these savings? The client gets what they pay for. The stuff that makes the difference and grows the business. Barney said, “we’ve moved past the world of 1960s excess and wasteful practices and into an era of responsible relationships based on value. Clients aren’t naïve enough to be fooled by one-off acts of pitch theatre. They want relationships based on substance and that’s what we’re building at 20something.”

This is just one example of an ex-big agency exec who has realised that the world has changed and client’s needs have too. So, if ‘agile’ is something you are integrating into your work culture and you need agencies to support this shift – we can help introduce you to some of the talent responsible for driving this movement forward.

For more info, contact: dario.pagani@ingenuitylondon.com