OPINION: AZIS ON ... CREATIVE INTEGRATION

By ROBIN AZIS, chief executive of HHCL &am, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 30 June 2000 12:00AM

There’s been a lot of talk about creative integration over the past few years. However most of the debate has been focused on the ability of a spec-ific marketing services to integrate themselves. Hence, we’ve ended up with advertising agencies, sales promotion agencies, direct marketing agencies or PR agencies - all proclaiming their own integrated offering at the expense of others. That’s not the kind of integration I’d like to talk about.

There’s been a lot of talk about creative integration over the past

few years. However most of the debate has been focused on the ability of

a spec-ific marketing services to integrate themselves. Hence, we’ve

ended up with advertising agencies, sales promotion agencies, direct

marketing agencies or PR agencies - all proclaiming their own integrated

offering at the expense of others. That’s not the kind of integration

I’d like to talk about.



I believe that the real opportunity lies in integrated thinking -

multi-disciplined people working together from the start of a client’s

project.



This can happen on three levels. We’re all familiar with ’message’

integration and, to a certain extent, ’brand’ integration, but I believe

the future lies in ’business’ integration: in helping a client

incorporate creative thinking into all of their dealings.



’Message’ integration has tended to involve taking a good TV idea and

extending it to other areas. But this isn’t enough. We need to encourage

an environment where there is no hierarchy of media and where

advertising, PR and other communication tools are seen as equals. This

approach requires teams of experts who can agree on what effect they

want to create and consider which marketing and media tools they need to

create it. Only then can you have a choice of media that cross-fertilise

and encourage each other.



’Brand’ integration requires us to create distinctive brand experiences,

not just distinctive brand images. This was how Egg (an HHCL client) was

able to tackle the cynicism around financial institutions. But to break

out of ’image’ creation, agencies need to work with people who are able

to produce a powerful brand experience and that means developing the

skills to collaborate with people outside our own disciplines.



However, the most crucial area in which we need to start working with

others is in offering our clients full-scale ’business’ integration.

These days, it’s no longer good enough to have a good product and good

communication.



To flourish in today’s world, businesses need creative thinking

throughout their organisation, from business strategy to recruitment

strategy. They also need to integrate this so that it all pulls in the

same direction. The question is, how can agencies help them?



Well, apart from employing people who are interested in shaping

businesses, we need to build a network of alliances with specialist

companies. Agencies themselves must build working relationships with

financial institutions, technology companies and recruitment agencies to

name but a few.



Agencies must start seeing themselves as webs of alliances, working in

different ways with many different people. Our ability to adapt and

learn will become even more crucial but the creative opportunities and

value that we can create could be enormous.



For an industry that’s always whinged about being taken seriously at

board level, there’s a real value in helping to create revolutionary

businesses.



Advertising agencies have been creating value for clients for a long

time.



We provide the human dimension, the spark of life if you like. Now

businesses are crying out for people to provide that spark throughout

their operations and if we can start, there’s a great future ahead.





Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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