Publicis Groupe and DDB shared insights relative to how agencies are restructuring to fight a dying business model at this year’s 4A’s Transformation event.

Issue is…it’s just these big holding companies that are breaking, not the smaller, more nimble firms.

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Big holding companies are too beholden to their Wall Street owners.


Big holding companies are too silo’d which makes it very hard for individual agencies with specific specialties to profitably get involved in pitches led by sister firms.

And big holding companies are losing the ability to attract and retain talent because the work isn’t exciting and they feel like they work in a big corporate entity and not the creative agency they once fell in love with.

The only model that’s breaking is the holding company model.

The independent agency model isn’t breaking…it’s just changing.  And only those agencies that see and react to that change will win in today’s market.

No longer can a digital agency just be a creative digital shop.  They need the analytics and measurement to make them legitimate.

No longer can a full service firm only play in the “likes” and “followers” world of digital and social media.  They have to be able to develop digital programs that are more robust and move the business in meaningful ways, not just ways tied to the appeal of a Facebook post.

And even firms that go beyond the basics in digital marketing, they too have to be on top of and in many cases, ahead of the digital curve as technology is changing rapidly and you need your agency to be the steward of your business and help guide you through the best and brightest ways to take your brand to market.

I realize that there are plenty of agencies part of large holding companies that do this…and do it well.  And we’ve included many of them in marketing agency searches we’ve run.  Issue is, unless the reigns are loosened, the dying model that is dragging down the holding company may one day be the burden of the agencies that sit under them.

The agency model isn’t dying…it’s just changing. And those agencies that stay ahead of it, will survive.  The agency of today will not exactly like the agency of tomorrow.  But I bet it will fundamentally will not look too dissimilar.  Just what they’re doing will be different.

If you’re in need of a marketing agency that can carry you to a different and better level, we’d be happy to help.  We are a no-cost way for you to find better firms.