MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - RIP the full service agency, it’s time for full service media

At first it sounded like a joke, but like any joke, once you’ve heard it a few times it stops being funny. When several senior clients told it at the Lisbon TV conference, it began to sound downright serious.

At first it sounded like a joke, but like any joke, once you’ve

heard it a few times it stops being funny. When several senior clients

told it at the Lisbon TV conference, it began to sound downright

serious.



The return of the full service agency? Ha ha, good one. But weighty

voices with meaty budgets are now beginning to question the structure of

advertising and media agencies.



Once upon a time, ye olde cliente had only to visit one office and have

one meeting to sort out all of his advertising needs; life was

simple.



Now, not only are there creative and media agencies, but these agencies

have launched a host of strategic and specialist units and clients are

beginning to suspect that such expansion has more to do with

money-making than client servicing. New media - being new and difficult

- needs a dedicated team to tackle the implications (or at least to

stand on conference platforms and spout finger-in-the-wind platitudes);

sponsorship, too, well ...



that’s a bit new and a bit different, and let’s throw in event

marketing, sports marketing and PR units while we’re at it. That should

crank up the fees.



As Eric Salamon from Heinz and Kimberly-Clark’s Oliver Cleaver argued in

Lisbon, more and more specialist divisions are being launched in an

effort to charge the client more, while the idea of a holistic

communications strategy is being undermined. And John Billett,

naturally, had a view, citing media executives who plan and buy

campaigns without ever seeing the ad in question.



Does all of this represent an irresistible argument for the return of

full service? I don’t think so. Many clients still see media as a cost

rather than an investment and still apportion their media accounts on

the basis of price. Who can blame agencies for topping up their fees by

branching out into new areas of expertise and charging for these

added-value services? And if media agencies are to invest in these new

areas (and invest heavily if the going rate for a two-bit executive with

the sheerest of new-media credentials is anything to go by), they must

be allowed to charge a fairer rate for these new services than they ever

have done for the old. None of this would really be addressed by a full

service model.



As for the wedding of media and creative, forget it. Neither party has

done much to understand the other since the separating of the ways a

decade or more ago, and you could count the number of creatives in

Lisbon on one finger (and, as a speaker, he was being paid for).



The call for the return of full service exposes the fact that for all

the talk about media agencies sitting at the client’s right hand, they

are still a long way from acting as true partners. This, surely, is

where the real opportunity now lies and with it the chance not just to

make a quick buck, but to build secure long-term income through

long-term partnerships with clients.



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