A view from Rachel Barnes

Talking a good game: stop paying lip service to collaboration

Collaboration. A sensational word du jour it is not but, unlike many buzzwords, it matters intrinsically to successful businesses today - and, importantly, tomorrow.

It’s not just about getting departments talking; it involves rethinking and realigning your business. No-one is about to disagree, I’m sure, but answer this honestly: are you truly working without silos or just talking a good game?

Speaking last month, Sainsbury’s Mark Given admitted brands like his are hindered by silos. However, what grates him is the lip service agencies pay this massive issue.

By legacy, at least, this is the nature of the industry. Emails ping into Given’s inbox each week asking if he needs a new content publishing agency or if he’s reviewed his algorithms recently. "No-one thinks you can have one agency to do it all, but neither can you have 15," he says. "We need you all to work together. But here’s the elephant in the room – you don’t want to. You’ll say you will play nicely, but the reality of competition is that you fundamentally don’t want to." 

Given says agencies must stop obsessing with specialisms and channels: "I don’t care whether we’re talking mobile or not – I want it to be customer first."

This is my first column in Campaign, following the merger of Marketing, Media Week and Brand Republic into the brand. We believe the most relevant voice for you in today’s marketplace is one voice that reflects the greater issues, challenges and potential for which we are all striving. Once we may have all been content in our narrow frameworks but now it is about collaboration and common goals.

For Campaign, the proof will be in our performance over the coming months and years. And we can only be successful in our ambition if you are all a part of the conversation.

Unilever’s Keith Weed believes that agency-client integration and collaboration are the only way brands can thrive in the future. It’s all about trust, he says: "Hard to achieve, easy to lose but absolutely vital to creativity."

Finding your way towards true collaboration can be complex, but the rewards are obvious when people from different business cultures – for example, marketing and tech – come together. Whether you create Nike+, Hive or the myBBC project is another matter, but these game-changers never come out of people working in isolation.

On a more personal note, having welcomed in the first new Campaign, I am now, temporarily, bowing out as I go on maternity leave. I hope you love our new approach to Campaign, reflecting and challenging this incredible industry in the broadest sense. And as our launch ad campaign states, we are proud parents of what we have created. Never before have such words been so personally poignant.