CHI and Naked lead the way for greater unity of disciplines

Bandwagons are designed to be chased and boarded at the earliest possible opportunity, so it's apt that just as the IPA really gets its media/creative love-in underway with a series of seminars to generate greater understanding, Clemmow Hornby Inge and Naked are coupling on the first wagon out of town, writes Claire Beale.

In answer to at least part of the problem, last week CHI and Naked set up a joint venture - Naked Inside. The thinking behind Naked Inside and the structure on which the model is predicated are outlined in Close-Up in this week's Campaign. But really it's quite simple. Creative agencies need broader communications insight if they are to keep pace with how best to reach consumers in the 21st century. Actually, it's probably even simpler than that: creative agencies need to find new ways to charge for clever thinking. Creating a new brand, and a new cost centre, means ratcheting up the fees is easier to justify.

But enough of cynicism. Naked Inside does, at least, address the fundamental issue the IPA is wrangling with: how do you recreate the full-service agency without recreating the full-service agency? There's no doubt the last thing media wants is a return to the basement of an agency structure that is obsessed with creative execution.

So Naked Inside is a bridge between the two disciplines. Other agencies have chosen other ways: Soul and Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy have communications strategy written into their DNA. And other agencies have discussed other ways of working with Naked.

The point is that we're beginning to see a real shift in emphasis; creatives are interested in media, maybe for the first time. OK, it's not misty-eyed altruism in the service of the client; in many cases, it's a bottom-line issue, a positioning issue and, for some, a survival issue. But the dismissiveness that characterised the old full-service ethos is on its way out.

The real dilemma, though, is not a structural one. Relationships between media and creative people are probably healthier now than ever and there is a greater respect than the old full-service model could ever allow. The dilemma is instead one of understanding, of having a real insight into the other side of the advertising equation. So the smarter creative agencies are clamouring to see media owners, to get a greater insight into media solutions, to talk about opportunities rather than the statistics and cost-per-thousand that encase many media owner/media agency discussions.

And it's also why CHI has stolen a march by hooking up with the hottest communications thinkers in town. It's a fashionable move and barely a pimple on the billion-dollar advertising business. But it's a real signifier of the thirst for media understanding. Whether Naked Inside is the right sort of model to drive this understanding... well, the pudding's almost ready for eating.

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