Agency 2020: Change makers discuss the threat landscape for agencies

June 17 2016

We live in an era of rapid change. And with change often comes the fear of threat. If my business is forced to change by economic, political or social change, what threats will that present to me, my business and my future?

Following on from the recently published Agency 2020 article, which considered where creativity sits within the modern agency environment, this article brought change makers from some of London’s leading agencies to discuss what the threat landscape looks like for today’s marketing agencies.

Offering their views at the Chatham House Rules roundtable session hosted at The Riding House Café in London were: Fern Miller, global chief marketing officer at DigitasLBi, George Porteous, managing director at Accenture Interactive; Jasel Mehta, former international general manager at AKQA, Jonny Spindler, chief innovation officer at AMV BBDO, Laura Jordan-Bambach, D&AD president and creative partner at Mr President, Mark Lainas, chief innovation officer at Ogilvy & Mather, Matt Groves, former managing director at Edelman Digital, Nadya Powell, managing director at Sunshine, Neil Miller, CEO at POSSIBLE, Simon Wassef, executive strategy director at R/GA, Gareth Moss, managing partner of The Blueprint and Paul Doran, strategic partner at The Blueprint.

Agencies are constantly adapting and changing to meet client interests and expectations in what has become a rapidly-evolving entrepreneurial sector. During the last decade agencies have often been downgraded from the significant role they held as informant and interpreter often to a guide for clients who know how to speak the language, but simply want some direction. Hearing from those involved in the discussion, it appears to be a widely-held belief that the trust between agencies and their clients has worn thin in recent years. 

Getting the discussion underway, one attendee suggested: “Clients are actually the biggest threat to agencies. Every client I know is hiring some of the best people in the industry and setting up in-house creativity/innovation teams. They're doing amazing stuff and they're doing it brilliantly because they're plugged into the business problem the client's got in a really meaningful way. The competition has always been there from all the agencies, but the clients used to really need an agency; it's getting less because they have got a team internally that they can now rely on.”

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