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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Adapt or #Fail. Darwin and Marketing: Businesses Have to Evolve

Adapt or #Fail. Darwin and Marketing: Businesses Have to Evolve

Posted on May 7, 2012 and read 2,763 times

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ProfilePicJur Adapt or #Fail. Darwin and Marketing: Businesses Have to EvolveJur Baart

There’s great turmoil in the world of creative agencies. Marketeers are under pressure, budgets are low and it’s still uncertain whether or not the budget for the second half-year will even be available. But never mind… the agency world has always had it’s highs and lows, and hopes are high that a little life will be breathed back into the budgets in 2013, allowing us to dismiss the current climate as a temporary blip.

Agency turnover seems to be the problem, but that’s just a symptom. The underlying cause is agency structure. Every agency is screaming out that all sectors need to change. However, the changing technological, media and consumer climate has equally major consequences for the agency sector, and the necessary changes are not being made.


Most agencies – especially the ‘old guard’ agencies – have a very old-fashioned organisational structure which dates back to just after the Mad Men era. Let’s call it ‘linear thought’. Marketeers give their briefing to the accounts department, who pass it on to the strategist, if there is one (strategists have been hard to sell in recent years). Once the strategist has contributed his two cents, the creative team swings into action. Subsequently, the studio sets up all the materials in conjunction with other outsiders such as photographers, illustrators, constructors etc. Alternatively, we start shooting but the studio is only allowed to create the bumper.

This is how a huge number of agencies work. They use linear processes that are easy to manage and help maintain the ‘cutting edge’. The different stages flow together seamlessly and every team produces the desired result at the specified time, resulting in full schedules for everyone involved. This approach is effective, as linear processes are well-organised, adjustable and manageable. Or at least, they were.


Paratroopers 2 241x156 Adapt or #Fail. Darwin and Marketing: Businesses Have to EvolveThese days, there is no one person who has insight into all aspects of the agency. The old guard of agency directors can no longer draw upon past glories. The changes in technology, media and consumer behaviour have ensured that past success is no guarantee for future success. The old-fashioned structures are incapable of top-down management as they are unaware of how to move with the times in their marketing. The old, creative-oriented directors are flying blind.

The old-guard agencies need to make a change. They need to organise themselves less like the Prussian army and more like paramilitaries: small groups of individuals who appear as if from nowhere to solve problems together. After all, plans change every day, scope is a regular problem and the often-understaffed studios are frequently unable to implement the best solutions. But this is natural. Everything’s changing, and everything is new. This is what marketeers are looking for and it’s the way the world is going. You have to reconsider your revenue model, otherwise you won’t last long in the new world of marketing.


Within the new agency structure, the key to success is creative strategists and strategic creatives. They represent the very heart of the agency, and they are where magic and mechanisms combine. After all, every cross-media solution for a marketing problem requires some magic and damn good mechanisms.

Agencies have too few creative strategists. Smaller agencies with around 20 employees usually have just one strategist, and usually not a creative strategist. That’s far too few. Within a non-linear agency, you need three or four strategists: creative strategists with a clear view of the entire media landscape. Strategists who can think mechanically in order to foresee whether cross-media campaigns will work in practice. Strategists who can strike the perfect balance between paid, owned and earned media. And most of all, strategists who, together with a creative team, can use their newfound insights from continued social research, which make rough diamonds sparkle within a matter of minutes.

However, creative strategists are not infallible. All too often, they end up doing the work of the creative team. At times like these, you need adaptive creatives with strategic skill. Creatives, who are not afraid to share ideas or let others enrich them. They are a rare breed. They are either creative directors who spend too much time in account meetings, or they are new to the trade and still need to be molded into the complete professional.

The landscape is changing. Agencies need to evolve and embrace an adaptive organic structure. Because an adaptable structure ensures future turnover and exceptional campaigns.




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