OPINION: Media primacy signals the death of full service

The full-service agency is dead. Long live the...er, long live the what? Of course, Lowe Howard-Spink will argue the toss, but the events of last week (Campaign, 8 December) and the year as a whole suggest that arguments about full service are about to become extinct.

The full-service agency is dead. Long live the...er, long live the what?

Of course, Lowe Howard-Spink will argue the toss, but the events of last

week (Campaign, 8 December) and the year as a whole suggest that

arguments about full service are about to become extinct.



Leaving aside the media-related developments at Lowe Howard-Spink and

McCann-Erickson last week (both are Interpublic group agencies, but

there is no suggestion that the two are in any way connected), consider

that this year we have seen two other bastions of the full-service credo

- Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Bartle Bogle Hegarty - abandon that

corner.



BBH has already set up its third-party dependant, Motive, and Abbott

Mead will set up a media shop some time next year with BMP DDB Needham.



What agencies are we then left with that can claim to be full service -

in the sense that while they offer media, it is only on behalf of

clients for whom they do creative work? The answer is very few.

Arguably, WCRS falls into this category, as does Leagas Delaney, but of

the other possible contenders, even agencies like Leo Burnett and J.

Walter Thompson buy or act on behalf of third parties.



And now, as of last week, we have both Lowes and McCanns moving towards

separately branded media operations, although Lowes, for the moment,

looks to be hedging its bets a bit.



Does any of this matter? Of course it does. First, it is yet more proof

that the importance of media has been recognised. There is a theory in

some quarters that in the future all agencies will be built around media

departments and it is the creative work that will be contracted out to

independents or freelancers.



Who knows whether this is realistic, but the point is that agencies must

continually reassess their structures as the world around them changes.

Here is welcome evidence that some are doing so.



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