VML’s Frederico Roberto urges the ad industry to champion bravery and ideas to stop the consultancies taking over

Frederico Roberto, Creative Director at VML London, part of the Y&R network, has told agencies they face extinction if they aren’t bold and savvy enough to become the business partners that clients need them to be.

As part of the AD Club of NY's ‘Redefining Bravery’ panel debate on Wednesday at Dmexco’s Creativity Summit, Roberto warned agencies that it is only a matter of time before consultancies start coming up with comms and branding ideas.

As part of the ‘Redefining Bravery’ panel debate today (Wednesday) at Dmexco’s Creativity Summit, Roberto told delegates that agencies are in a particularly vulnerable position because they are trying to do a bit of everything “a bit of digital, a bit of above the line, a bit of below the line, a bit of design, a bit of social”. As a result, he said, they are not doing anything outstandingly well.

“I’m lucky enough to work for an agency that still looks at digital as an expertise - unlike what major agencies are saying, which is that any idea can go anywhere and that everything is digital,” he said.

He advised agencies to be brave and, instead of buying smaller highly specialised shops just to be able to say they ‘do digital’ or are ‘in retail’, to focus on the area where they can be of real added value – ideas.

He warned that if agencies don’t focus on ideas they won’t be able to adapt to survive. “We’ll realize that we couldn’t adapt, but we also weren’t brave enough to lead the way - to be bold and savvy enough to be the business partners that our clients need and want us to be,” he said.

Ideas don’t need to be comms ideas or branding ideas, he said, adding: “They can be a service idea, a new product idea, new category idea, a new way of customer care idea, a new uniform idea, or a new retail decoration idea. But we have to be brave and stop trying to reach out to everything at the same time. We’re simply not doing our job properly if we set out to do that.”

Roberto was speaking alongside fellow panelists Courtney Buechert, the CEO at Eleven and Krishnan Menon, the CEO and Co-Founder of Phenomenon, for the debate, which was presented by Dmexco’s Wolfram Kons. 

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