Editorial: Risks of integration may outweigh rewards for COI

What COI does today, other major advertisers often do tomorrow. So you can bet that there will be lots of interest in its proposed move to bring all of its agencies - creative, digital and direct - within a single roster.

COI's official line is that such a change may be necessary not only because of a relentlessly evolving media land-scape, but also to comply with European Union procurement requirements. While that may be true, it's equally the case that COI has had to address the long-standing frustrations felt by many of its agency suppliers.

Digital agencies on the COI roster often carp at what they claim is the financial senselessness of having to pitch for every project, no matter how small. Meanwhile, their creative agency counterparts privately beef about what they see as the compartmentalisation of the roster that prevents them taking an overall campaign idea anywhere but above the line.

Previously, COI has argued that agencies may talk the talk when it comes to executing a truly integrated campaign, but haven't always walked the walk. Now it is considering a roster that, in theory, will allow any agency to be considered for any brief. It's an intriguing prospect, which, if successful, could result in some highly innovative creative solutions.

However, there are risks attached to such an arrangement. The upside is that a merged roster recognises the changing face of adland. Nobody could seriously argue that, when it comes to integration, big, mainstream agencies still "don't get it". And there's less reason now not to let the agency that comes up with the core creative idea develop it across a range of media. The downside is that the COI roster threatens to evolve into a kind of Frankenstein monster that becomes unwieldy and unmanageable.

Without careful control, there's a real danger that the mooted shake-up will cause more problems than it solves.