The much-talked-about battle between management consultancies and
advertising agencies was this week dismissed as a ’phoney war’ by Andrew
Robertson, the managing director of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.
Speaking on Tuesday evening at a debate organised by the Marketing
Society, Robertson said: ’Consumers don’t change their behaviour because
of a strategy dreamed up by a management consultant, they change
behaviour because of ads.’
He added: ’According to Millward Brown, the gap between the best and
worst performing ads is 4,000 per cent.
’We should concentrate more on producing great ads, charging more for
them and throwing in the thinking - which is a byproduct of the process
of producing an ad - for free. It’s the execution that matters and
agencies should not take their eye off this very valuable ball.’
Speaking for the management consultants, John Zealley, a partner at
Arthur Andersen, said the idea that management consultancies were taking
business away from agencies was ’fundamentally old-fashioned’.
He stated: ’We have to co-exist together. Today’s marketing climate is
characterised by pace of change, time pressure, huge volumes of data and
complexity. What clients therefore need is more consulting skills. Any
brand worth its salt has a retained ad agency.
So why not retain a management consultant?’
Both views fly in the face of the much publicised campaign by Graham
Hinton, the president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising,
to alert agencies to the threat posed by management consultancies.
Hinton has also argued that agencies are mistakenly giving away
strategic thinking, having allowed themselves to be marginalised as
suppliers of ads.