Close-Up: Live issue - Truth at the centre of adland's newest agency

Dye Holloway Murray's founders explain the philosophy they hope will help them thrive in a saturated, cut-throat market.

- Is there room in the market for another agency?

Some might say no, because of the abundance of supply. But supply isn't the issue - a market can only be considered saturated when its customers' needs are fully satisfied. By that yardstick, our market isn't even close.

- Why did you decide to launch?

We have both a philosophy about branding and a new-agency model that we passionately believe in. We think that for clients who share our philosophy, our approach will deliver more of the business-building ideas they are looking for, with less of the self-indulgence and wasteful overheads that they're not.

- What are the biggest challenges facing agencies today?

First, adapting to the rapid rate of change. No-one can predict what the future of communications will look like, so success will depend on staying sufficiently alert, open-minded and nimble to continuously restructure and reinvent in response to what unfolds. Existing agencies, with their entrenched structures, silos and certainties, will find this much harder than smaller, newer outfits with less to lose from change - and thus much less incentive to resist it.

Second, facing up to the full implications of the truth that the consumer is now in control. In our view, this means accepting that the long era of communication as make- believe has ended and that only a more authentic approach, based on adhering to the company's truth within, will connect with today's informed, networked consumer. Agencies have to create meaningful brand differentiation in a world of shared platforms, copycat technology, performance parity and a near-exhausted supply of consumer insights.

The danger is we become so fixated with the delivery of big ideas that we fail to give enough attention to how best to create them in the first place.

- What is your USP?

While everyone else continues to look outside for the answer, we will head inside.

We believe that the road towards the big, integrated, channel-neutral ideas clients are looking for no longer runs through consumers' wishes or admen's inventions, but only through the mission, culture and defining truth within the client company itself.

Nothing else will credibly hold up across all the multiple touchpoints today's brands have to consistently inform; nothing else will be accepted by the enlightened consumers today's brands have to engage with. The answer lies within you. That's our point.

- How will you handle integrated briefs?

We will establish a network of the best thinkers in each discipline and partner with them depending on the needs of each project. We will sit at its hub, providing strategic and creative leadership, directing project management and maintaining overall quality control.

It seems your agency model is pretty traditional. Were you tempted to come up with something new?

We have come up with something new. For instance, we are committed to doing things very differently in defining areas such as remuneration and structure.

We will charge solely on a project basis and will avoid using a retainer model. Retainer fee relationships perpetuate the status quo and prop up existing structures. We will offer better value to clients as they will never be paying for agency overhead fat, only for the service they individually require and receive.

We will avoid the turf wars and the silo mentality endemic within the traditional agency structure by concentrating on the development of the central strategic and creative idea or platform, and then looking outside for the best executional partners for the specific task. Many of the best online, sales promotion, DM, branded content, brand identity or PR agencies are young creative start-ups, and we want to work with these kinds of companies in the way a traditional agency would work with a TV production house.

Every newcomer must have a view about how best to generate channel-neutral thinking and fully integrated brand ideas. Ours is that this will be achieved less by adding one or two new disciplines inside than by remaining neutral and integrated in one's motivation and mindset, supported by a flexible structure that can be readily adapted to every individual situation.

- What are your goals over the next 12 months?

To develop a foundational base of client partners who believe in themselves and in our ability to help them become what they are; to keep up with our mortgage payments (to retain full ownership and control we are self-financing this venture); and to show no signs of the emergence of a house style.

- Why did you choose your name?

Our approach is about encouraging clients to express their true selves. We'd have been setting a pretty poor example if we'd failed to follow our own counsel when selecting our name. Dye Holloway Murray is who we are, without adornment, spin or artifice. If we have the right stuff, our business will prosper. If we don't, no manner of funky name will come to our rescue.


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