Jessica Hubbard, Deputy Editor; 23 March 16
At a recent Heavy Chef evening held in Joburg, Adlip caught up with Fred Roed, CEO of digital agency World Wide Creative, to chat about the tectonic shifts taking place in the advertising world. In his view, the client/agency relationship has changed dramatically over the past decade, largely due to the rise of Digital and the new roles it has created.
“…Digital has given opportunities to a whole community of smart young things to effectively become advisers to clients,” he explains. “And many of them now sit in positions of authority – from Social to Search to new media channels…”
He adds: “It has given rise to a whole swathe of new roles…and certainly in my experience as the head of a digital agency, the clients have caught up with us.”
As a result, Roed notes that while agencies are still pushing ahead and ‘doing a lot of really good work’, they are now being questioned – particularly on the ‘throw-away delivery stuff…the real conveyor belt work, so everything from analytics to media placement and strategy, social media campaigns, etc)’.
“Now clients have people [internally] who have such a deep understanding of this stuff, that the questions are coming thick and fast,” he says. “So the challenge for agencies is that the client can actually do a lot of that stuff more effectively. They can create a team of people internally who can do what we used to build big retainers on – and I think it’s more efficient.”
So what does this mean going forward?
“On the client side, they’re looking for efficiencies, and they’re looking to employ,” says Roed. “We’re seeing some of the top strategists and creatives actually going over to the client side and leading teams.”
Essentially, he believes that agencies are being forced in two different directions.
“They are being swallowed up into the big conglomerates, with specialist agencies becoming part of the big, multi-disciplined teams that can handle the big campaigns and big spend,” explains Roed. “Or, the agencies are being forced to become specialists…we [WWC] are specialising in the more technical side of campaigns, for example. So I think a lot of agencies are being forced to produce more innovative work…”