Today it's our clients that are pushing advertising boundaries.
Just last week, Unilever's global media director, Alan Rutherford, claimed his ad agencies are not able to make the required changes to the new realities of brand marketing. He feels "there is a struggle to have traditional media and digital and content and PR all brought under one roof on the agency side". The solution (for now) is to bring teams of creative planners over to the client side to create integrated, often digital, solutions for their brands.
A predictable reaction from the agency side might be that creative planning should be part of the creative process and should be retained at the agency.
But consider that reaction again. These changes might actually be required if you want to create fully integrated campaigns for a marketing organisation that's not used to running them.
Perhaps these organisational changes are nothing but the long-awaited client-side reaction to what, six years ago, was labelled "the end of advertising".
Creative ideas should be integrated, using the full potential of the new (digital) channels, bringing together the best creative people from the various disciplines, building an advertising model that uses cross-media channels and entertainment to create the right dialogue with the right audience. Ultimately, that means we have to let go and give more control to our audience. Only by using the right mixture of PR, traditional channels, creative media planning and digital creative will we steer the brand's message - an exciting task that requires special skills on the agency and client side.
All of which means Unilever's decision isn't that radical at all, it is merely a reaction to changes in the ad industry that has now reached a new level of awareness.
Several clients and agencies have stepped up to this exciting task by producing increasingly integrated cross-media work. Some agencies have brought creative communications planning to the core of their creative departments. Their minds understand working from a holistic approach, and they know how to interact and entertain this new (and often digitally savvy) audience.
It's no surprise clients have followed suit. "NokiaGame" and "20 lives" have built Nokia's "connecting people" tagline. Look at the likes of HP's "hype" or Volvo's "life on board" - both groundbreaking campaigns that have pushed their respective brands into unexplored territory over the past few years.
Agencies should be delighted with the new recruitment of creative planning marketers to the client marketing organisation. It might get ugly at some agencies (and clients) and some might have to change, but that's a good thing and, in some cases, long overdue.
- Sander Volten is the client services director at Euro RSCG 4D Amsterdam.