by: Richard Hunt
The annual AdForum Summit brings together 'pitch consultants' from around Europe and agencies who relish the chance to tell the consultants about their progress and why the consultant should pass the news on to clients. For me it's a chance to step into another world, and a vibrant, optimistic world it is too.
In the Czech republic we hear that agencies are dead or dying, that global clients can only work with network agencies, that network agencies are dinosaurs... Beyond the border, in the real Europe, its a different story.
All over Europe, talented people have set up new agencies, rampaged across the continent in pursuit of clients, and won assignments from global brands. We met agencies who concentrate on digital solutions, such as Perfect Fools from Stockholm (McDonalds, Nokia, Mentos); or the romantically named North Kingdom, an agency from the Swedish Arctic Circle working for Adidas, Coke and Vodafone. There were agencies who see digital as just an element of the modern tools of the communications agency, such as Kunde & Co, from Copenhagen, which has developed a system called "Corporate Religion", that pushes companies to ensure that their internal culture matches the image their brands portray to the world.
Then there were independent agencies who have existed longer than Google, and still resist the temptation to sell out to the networks; Crispin Porter+Bogusky, whose leader Chuck Porter told us "No digital agency ever built a brand"; and Taxi, a brilliant Canadian agency I really ought to have known more about. They had actually done some work for Oskar, yet locked in my Czech island, I had never paid proper attention to them. All of them and the other excellent agencies we saw, showed us that even in recession, independent agencies flourish, attract the best clients, and build brands.