Slack has become vital at many ad agencies, even reshaping the traditional client-agency relationship — for good and bad.
Ad agencies and their clients are increasingly forming dedicated channels to allow for easy interaction and collaboration beyond the dreaded conference call. At the same time, the ease of use is making some agency staffers grouse that Slack is making it too easy to perpetuate an always-on mentality.
“It heightens transparency on all sides, while ditching that more formal, polished style of interaction that has traditionally plagued the client-agency relationship,” said Gene Liebel, co-founder of digital agency Work & Co. “Being informal and collaborating more often is a hell of a lot more effective than fancy, overthought presentations delivered to clients once a month.”
Along with encouraging more communication, Slack and similar tools reduce the time it takes to complete projects, according to MichaelAaron Flicker, president of ad agency XenoPsi, who said 15 percent of XenoPsi’s clients use Slack, but he hopes to have 30 percent of them on it by the end of 2018. For highly collaborative projects, the agency has seen dramatic increases in responsiveness using Slack, with conversations that once required days over phone or email now taking hours or minutes in some cases, Flicker said.
This is especially true when working on a campaign with multiple activations, said Luke Hurd, director of integrated production at creative agency Barkley, where all 300 employees use Slack to connect with colleagues and clients across remote offices. He said Slack helps teams stay on track, pointing to the 4/20 campaign Barkley worked on for Wingstop this year, which involved a virtual reality homepage takeover, a 3-D YouTube video, sending Google VR goggles to influencers and live artists painting a mural in Denver. “It wouldn’t have come together so easily without [Slack],” he said. “There was constant communication the whole time.” Hurd added that Slack “creates a bond with a client,” and Slack’s emojis and GIFs help that along.
“Slack’s super at helping brands go from talking about being more agile to proving they can actually do it,” said Pablo Gomez Gallardo Maass, vp of e-commerce at Aeromexico, who uses Slack to communicate with Work & Co. “It’s been a key factor in achieving go-to-market speed for a ton of new digital products we’ve released in the past year, from a new website to a new mobile app to new kiosks in airports.”
Slack is a far cry from how clients and agencies once collaborated with each other.