A view from Debbie Klein

Perspective: Why integration is so much more than matching luggage

Five years ago, just after our MBO of WCRS, we asked a selection of industry luminaries to tell us what clients were going to be looking for in 2010.

As we look back in time and see whether the crystal balls of Claire Beale, Martin Jones and Suki Thompson were working properly, it's clear they were remarkably prescient.

Suki said that the agency of 2010 would be "highly creative, completely integrated and it will be much more about digital".

Claire agreed that "by 2010, the agency as we know and love it will be a much more integrated operation".

And Martin argued that we were well placed to capitalise on these trends, concluding: "You can only **** it up!"

Today, the client demand for integration is stronger than ever, but the challenges for agencies remain.

Engine recently co-authored the ISBA Guide To Integrated Marketing Communications, and ISBA tells us it's one of its most-demanded publications (call ISBA if you'd like a copy). Which suggests that the industry has still not quite made it to the promised land.

To me, real integration quite simply starts inside your head - a desire and belief that there is no hierarchy of disciplines. That none of us is as strong as all of us. And that being transparent rather than protectionist in the pursuit of a joined-up solution will be more fun and rewarding as a result.

Integration is as much a function of agency culture as it is of agency process, though of course you need both.

Next, you have to create an environment where integration can bloom. For us, that meant moving into a new building where everyone is under one roof so that they can learn from each other and benefit from serendipity and shared space.

It also means you have to move people dynamically so that whole client teams can sit together.

Finally, it means finding clients who are set up to deliver their end of the bargain and actively want to buy something that is more than matching luggage.

Most clients say they want integration but, all too often, they can't fully buy it as they are in silos.

Integration seems higher up larger clients' agendas, but often smaller clients without built-in silos integrate much more naturally.

The Tao of brands says that what's inside the brand is outside the brand - the people who run the company will be felt in how the consumer experiences the brand.

The same goes for agencies, which is why when it comes to integration, you have to start inside your own head.

Debbie Klein is the chief executive of Engine and chairman of WCRS.