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For A Succesful Integration, Just Add Advertising

Posted on July 30, 2003 and read 6,825 times

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In her article, FEAR, PARANOIA, AND CONVERGENCE, Joan McArthur makes a number of salient points about the roadblocks on the path to successful convergence or integration faced by your typical ad agency.

Frankly, I think she’s right. Which is why I’d build my integration model on the back of a stand-lone, below the line (BTL) agency, instead.

Here you have a shop where integration is likely already a daily fact of life. Where direct marketing (that’s direct response TV, radio, print AND mail, by the way), as well as sales promotion and, most recently, digital or Interactive, can all work together toward the same goal: generating response in the form of calls, clicks, coupons, test drives …and even sales! Where all contribute to one bottom line. No pirates. No territory defending. No “get your hands off my revenue!”

In fact, all that’s missing from our integrated scenario is … the advertising discipline. So add it, already. (Along with a media department if you want.)

This is going to sound like heresy or crazy talk to some people, but many of the creatives in shops like these either have general backgrounds or simply possess the “chops” to do brand work too. They are that good. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it.

But let’s say you don’t or can’t bring yourself to believe me. Fine. Not every BTL shop has these people, or in sufficient numbers anyway.

So bring ‘em in.

[You also need good suits, the kind who know how to SELL ideas rather than merely arrange showings and gather reviews, which is too often the reason you don’t know about the quality of creative that exists in many BTL shops… but that ‘s another story.]

My point is, it’s easier to integrate people with general abilities and experience into a direct shop than (as you point out) it is the other way around. Sure, some DM creatives’ noses might be temporarily put out of joint, (“I’ve been slaving here all this time and suddenly THEY come in and get to do the fun/glamorous stuff!”), but that’s not too hard to overcome.

Under the watchful eye of a creative director with an integrated background, a cross-pollination of disciplines can blossom and flourish to the benefit of clients and agency alike. (I say ‘integrated background’ because your typical Ad Agency CD has been brought up to see only big media solutions to every creative brief. This, combined with an understandable ignorance of BTL solutions (along with boring, arcane stuff like databases and CRM), makes them ill-suited to helming an integrated shop.)

With the right people, deployed in the right places, soon you could have one big happy multi-disciplinary family.

Of course, there’s one other key ingredient. A big client with the foresight and the cujones to give their below the line agency an above the line brief. Rest assured, the day is coming. And the first clients/agencies to do it, will be the first to reap the rewards.


Eric Gall
Group Creative director
Draft Canada






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