Media Perspective: Newest wave of ad agencies backing media can pull it off

It was interesting to take a trip down memory lane recently when writing a piece that looked at Naked Communications' tenth anniversary.

Nostalgia has its place but as the senior media agency people quoted made it abundantly clear, the communications world has very definitely moved on since 2000.

Yet one thing seems especially apparent in the wake of Naked's first ten years: media agencies are whistling in the wind if they think they have solved the issue of integration, recoupling, whatever you want to call it, of creative with media. Major clients, including the likes of Johnson & Johnson, have recently been reported as being keen for ad networks to examine the potential for "rebundling" of media and creative. It would be easier for them to manage, no doubt, and might result in better work.

Naked seemed to inspire the process that saw every advertising agency buying itself a media man with a scooter and a wardrobe full of T-shirts to occupy some floor space.

Somehow, this trend did not last and faded away as cuts were made. Perhaps this was because media people were too isolated from the ad agency process to drive change. Also, media agencies became slightly better, in response, at making their own attempt to swim upstream towards a broader brand and business conversation.

Yet there is a second wave of "creative" agencies investing in media thinking and this one seems so much more authentic. The explosion of digital channels has perhaps helped in this by making it natural for ad agencies to explore pushing their ideas into new channels and, also, there has been a wave of start-ups (Adam & Eve, Beta, The Brooklyn Brothers, HMDG et al) that have all stitched media thinking into their DNA.

They will have various degrees of success but the process seems unstoppable. And when you look at MCHI, the joint venture between CHI & Partners and Mindshare (which evolved from a comms planning offering at CHI) or Eden, the unit launched by Adam & Eve and the7stars, you are contemplating full-service businesses with real growth potential.

Media agencies seem quite aware of this and are making their own moves into creative execution with the likes of MediaCom and MEC launching their own creative resource. And, of course, Mindshare is building a reputation for creating its own content. Yet media agencies still have some way to go in burning this ideas-led mindset into the heart and soul of their business.

Who knows, perhaps they'll never manage it. But one thing's for sure: some of the newer ad agencies are already putting pressure on the model of creative and media separation. If media businesses don't respond, then they will look isolated and divorced from the ideas process.


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