Consultants Panel: Emerging Agency Models

Who's hot and why and what makes them special? These are a few questions our panel of consultants considered as they reviewed new and/or up-and-coming agencies in their regions of the world.

Participants included Suki Thompson, managing partner of the Haystack Group in London; Leslie Winthrop, founder and managing partner of AAR Partners in Manhattan; Greg Paull, principal with R3 in the Asia Pacific; and Christian Larger, chairman and CEO of Gibory Consultant in Paris.

In the UK, many believe that the traditional agency model is outmoded and expensive. While clients are experimenting with different agency models more agencies are creating new templates of their own. Mainly leaner, faster and cheaper.

DLKW is one of the fast growing UK agencies and with a twist. They're building a European network around one central client and agency with centrally created concepts and distribution. So far they're succeeding.

BBH has long been a hot agency but appears to be breaking new ground by participating in pitches for Unilever and British Airways. Their global campaign for Johnny Walker has finally attracted the big guys. If they win, it will be real news.

And Rapp Collins, part of BBDO Omnicom, is creating its own niche by covering a plethora of below the line capability while doing it differently from anyone and in 24 offices in 20 markets.

In the U.S. some marketers are not doing business as usual. Old Navy, Coca-Cola and Anheuser Busch, your typical big spenders, are giving some smaller agencies a try. “It's not about big budgets. It's about big ideas,” said Winthrop.

Old Navy tapped Strawberry Frog for an assignment. Along with great creative and independent thinking, they offer a flat structure or a core group of people and decision-makers who can streamline the process. One idea leads to the next and the buzz becomes: “the power of brand movements.”

TAXI has as its mantra: “doubt the conventional, create the exceptional.” TAXI also has a minimalist structure--a small, select group of experienced experts who are accountable and responsible for client business. Their work for Viagra is unconventional and memorable.

Oneseven came about last year when 17 Saatchi & Saatchi employees, who all worked on General Mills, walked out of the agency and signed on with IPG. Oneseven offers “just the resources you need, not the ones you don't,” no layers, and a quick return with solutions. Oneseven's above and below-the-line work for Cheerios is their big calling card.

Paull said BBH with its mini networks is also doing well in Asia, especially with its work for Axe and Coke Light with lemon.

Nitro China, which just picked up business from Unilever and Swatch China, is the most creative agency he's seen. They like to sit down with their client and craft out the campaign together, usually in less than five days.

Kinetic Singapore is a classic web agency determined to become full service. No one over 35 need apply. They offer a fresh, young perspective and design campaigns from the bottom up.

And Ignite is fulfilling the last great marketing gap of our generation. For one, they're going into stores all over China that cater to young girls and collecting data to sell to clients like P&G or using it to access other brands.

Larger probably spoke for many when he said that most emerging models he sees in Europe are the same old story. “…born and educated in big agencies, a new model, no fat, no juniors, 100% seasoned professionals, proactive, no markup…”
But two emerged as truly different and one of a kind.

TVLowCost(2) is everything in one package for 250,000 Euro (approximately $300,000) In other words, for one flat fee a client gets full strategic thinking and creative, a two-stage pre and post impact and awareness report, television production, a media plan and a minimum of 100 TV spots. Who could ask for more.

And Marcel is a new generation of agency from Publicis. Marcel is made up of 20 people of 10 different nationalities, working on 10 mega brands. “A melting pot of all the disciplines” at the center of three Publicis holding networks, Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis.

Certainly something for everyone.