The advertising landscape is changing. Creative agencies are setting up media in-house, media agencies are producing content and some clients are demanding their media and creative shops work under the same roof.
Asda’s move to an integrated model for its creative and media work came as a shock to the industry last week. The supermarket chain dumped Carat and VCCP and moved its accounts to the Publicis Groupe agencies Blue 449 and Saatchi & Saatchi without a pitch. Some Blue 449 staff are expected to work in Saatchis’ office as Asda wants creative and media to be in "physical proximity".
Some people see it as part of a wider trend – a possible return to full service, which was prevalent before media and creative split in the 90s.
As Campaign wrote last week, MullenLowe is now running Mediahub UK and has won the full-service account for Fage’s Greek yoghurt brand Total.
VCCP, meanwhile, built its own media shop, VCCP Media, over a decade and expanded it with the acquisition of Adconnection last year.
And there’s The & Partnership, which grew out of Johnny Hornby’s CHI & Partners and has a number of other agencies, including the media arm M/SIX – in which WPP owns 49 per cent.
According to Jonathan Fowles, the chief media officer at MullenLowe, the coming together of media and creative reflects the fact that clients are looking for a united voice. He insists it’s not just a case of media being bolted on at the end.
But others are more doubtful about integration, pointing out how different the two disciplines are. For many clients, media is all about global scale and pricing, while creativity is more about ideas.
WPP has tried to push integration by setting up client teams such as Team Ford to bring agencies together on a case-by-case basis. As Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP, put it in last year’s annual report: "WPP itself can function as the 21st-century equivalent of the full-service agency."
Some will see that as tacit acknowledgment that getting media and creative together isn’t easy without some forceful direction from above.
Johnny Hornby, founder, The & Partnership:
"We launched M/SIX in 2007, believing effective marketing strategies and creative solutions could no longer be in silos. That premise is truer than ever – and others are going to have to develop full-service models in order to compete."
Nick Baughan, chief executive, Maxus UK:
"I think the best clients and agencies already do integrate creative and media. The notion of a ‘lead agency’ is dead. Today, it’s incumbent on a client to provide the best framework for an agency community to operate within."
Laura Nice, client group head, Vizeum UK:
"For some, integrated media and creative services hold obvious advantages. However, it is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach and not every client wants, or needs, a full-service model. In fact, many crave deep specialisms."
Magnus Djaba, UK chief executive, Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon:
"The most forward-thinking clients are already looking at how media and creative can work together. A closer partnership between channel planning and the creative idea will get us to better work and more effective results."