Life has a funny way of letting you know you’ve been around the block. Part of the joys of growing up is defining and deciding where you stand in life, going through the process of self discovery. Deciding where you stand on key worldly issues, whether global politics, the envioronment or whatever, through debate, argument and heated emotions – that’s growing up.
But part of the fun of being grown up, is recognising that life has a funny way of repeating itself…
Having worked ‘agency-side’ for over a decade now, the cycles of repetition are starting to emerge here too. Whether it’s seeing clients swing from using outsourced to in-house models (and back again!) or agencies rushing to figure out how to turn the latest buzz-word into a service offering. I’m just saying that there are some key themes which tend to repeat and cause the same questions to be asked time and time again.
Will or should the agency model change, is one such question I am often asked, or forced to consider. As channels and consumer demands evolve and diversify will the agency of tomorrow be a different beast to the agency of today? It’s a question we’ve faced increasingly in these economic times too. Should we do it all in-house, or retain only key strategic roles in-house (consultancy) and outsource the design and development work? After all, design and development is now so commoditised. Just take a look at 99designs.com (the EBay of design work) to see what I mean.
For me though, the more I hear this question being asked, the more I am assured it boils down to the type of work you want to produce if you’re an agency or have produced if you’re a client. And, if the answer you aspire to create the best work in the world that engages, communicates and convinces audiences, there is no doubt in my mind that a full service agency is the only way to go. Why…?
Well, it’s not far different to the supermarket’s vs local high street shops debate! In theory clinging on to the fine local shops might make sense (aka niche agencies offering the latest buzz-word as a service), but in practice? Well, let’s just say I know where I end up doing my shopping – irrespective of my ideals (it’s down at Tesco’s in case you’re wondering!).
To the outsourcing advocates I say, you might have an agency business model but how long will it be before you come back to recognise that the only way to produce industry leading work is by creating a rich, thriving environment, where the creative and technical passion oozes from every corner and innovation is part of the fabric. This, I maintain, can only be achieved by cramming as much expertise and talent as you can (find demand for and sell!) under one roof.