Sometimes it is hard to take the opinion of a person when they have never experienced or been in the situation at hand. In the agency debate, it is tough to really listen to professionals and commentators if they have never experienced working with or in an agency.
But what about hearing from someone who ran one of the bigger holding companies?
David Jones, the former leader of the Havas Media Group, recently spoke with Business Insider about the traditional agency model and the current goings-on in the agency industry.
His answers were, of course, interesting.
For some background, Jones left Havas to start his own agency tech company, You and Mrs. Jones. Jones' company has thus far gathered $350 million in funding and has invested in a number of different companies, one of the more notable companies being Mashable.
Jones' comments were popular because he stated that he thinks that the "traditional" agency model might be detrimental to the companies pioneering it in as little as ten years. He stated that some of the bigger holding companies and agencies may have trouble transitioning to a lean, highly adaptive, tech-based model because of the high margins and processes that the traditional billing method demands.
One can look at this in different ways. First, we can assume that since Jones left his cushy position at Havas, perhaps he saw something in the cards for the holding company lifestyle that nobody else has yet to see. Maybe Jones truly is one of the visionaries of the advertising industry. Second, and a more cynical view, is that Jones could be using his high profile to cast doubt and speculation over his once-fierce rivals just to position his new venture in better light. Jones could be trying to start a shift in spending and partnerships by declaring that it is time for traditional agencies to throw in the towel.
Or third, maybe neither side is right, and since the movement between brands and agencies has yet to settle, it is way too early to declare a winning side.
The fact is that the agency industry, whether it's a "traditional" agency or not, is in trouble. Geoff Narode, a marketing teacher in Charlotte, stated that "sometimes it is harder to control people who do not directly work for you."
And he's right.
Today's agencies have developed a reputation for being above reproach and yet way too valuable to lose. Both sentiments are fading quickly, with no change in behavior. We wholeheartedly believe that brands need agencies, and we are concerned that agencies might have gotten way too puffed up to believe that they need brands.
Hopefully, our latter sentiment is wrong.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.