When the 80s came, it became clear that the future of advertising lies in two kinds of agencies. The first is the huge global networks, which is basically a collection of agencies coming together like a conglomerate or a group of holding companies. These networks will have the big global clients who want their campaigns to be replicated all over the world with the same effectiveness and efficiency. These network agencies have the scale, money and global presence to rival any multinational company. Some of these networks were formed through mergers and acquisitions, like Omnicom which has BBDO, DDB and TBWA under its ownership and in terms of billing and revenue is the biggest Advertising agency network in the world. Some networks where formed by a group of clever businessmen who purchased undervalued agencies in trouble to form a global powerhouse. Sir Martin Sorel is credited for forming WPP in such a way. An out and out businessman with finance background and never writing a single line of advertising, he is probably the most famous living advertising legend who created this monolith called WPP Group by combining the world famous JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, Grey World-wide and Young & Rubicam.
The world of advertising therefore is controlled by these 6 giant corporations – Omnicom, WPP, Interpublic (Owner of McCann Erickson), Publicis (owner of Leo Burnett and), Havas (owner of EURO RSCG) and Dentsu. Here the odd one out is Dentsu which is actually one single agency from Japan, not a network of agencies.
The second type of agencies are referred often as Creative Boutiques or “Hotshops”. These are smaller, local agencies which often focuses on completely fresh thinking and provoking advertisements and has clients who want to shake the status quo, rather than the safe predictability of the big network agencies.
The other big trend is how agencies spun off their media, public relations and research departments into separate entities. It made sense because that allowed the agencies to bulk-buy media space for multiple clients at one go which allowed big discounts which they passed on to their clients after keeping a commission. Mindshare from WPP is a pioneer in this kind of spin offs.
The biggest trend of them all is actually the advent of digital and new media. All of a sudden advertising’s role as a one way communication with consumer looks dated, compared to the two way conversation that digital and social has to offer. The continuous debate of the death of 30 second TVC has reached its peak, though to be honest, media spending in any of the old guards of advertising called Print, Electronic and Out of Home hasn’t gone down at all. Media fragmentation is happening faster than ever. People are getting bombarded with advertising messages. Giving less and less attention and trust to advertising is the new reality. To fight that Advertisers are continuously pushing boundaries to come up with newer and cleverer forms of storytelling.
The seeds of the future are already sown in this present. The most misused, misunderstood but monumentally important word of this advertising era is about to change the face of future advertising. The word is fondly known in board rooms, marketing meetings and agency pitch presentations as “Engagement”