To integrate or not to integrate, that isn’t the question.

Nick Bayes, our Perth General Manager opens the Pandora’s Box of debate about whether clients should consolidate with one agency or use a panel of specialists for different disciplines.

It was with interest that I read last week about giant healthcare company Bupa’s move to consolidate its media and creative business with  one agency. They believe that a “combined media/creative solution offers the best solution for Bupa’s marketing needs and reflects the convergence of media and creative in our ever increasing digital and content focus”. And they aren’t alone, nationally, the industry has seen many organisations over the past few months consolidate their media and creative business with one agency partner, citing ease of management and the convergence of these disciplines as the key reasons. And this is especially relevant in our state where the economy is resulting in businesses streamlining their operations and as a result, their agency roster.

Now, at this point I’d like to state that I am a little biased in my views on this subject. As the General Manager of The Brand Agency, Perth, with 80 people providing arguably the most comprehensive integrated offering in the state, I believe that integration of all communications services under one roof is what delivers the best value and best results to clients. And our record over the past year supports this view.

But integration isn’t a new thing, for those people who have been in the industry for a while it probably feels like Groundhog Day.  The late 90s saw agencies jumping on the integration band-wagon, led by EuroRSCG, now Havas Worldwide, bringing media in-house and establishing digital and direct offerings. At the time I was part of this trend, working at FCBi in Sydney, the ‘i’ stood for integration I think!

The industry then went through the ‘hub and spoke’ approach with new start-ups focusing their efforts in a particular area and partnering with other specialists as needed. These agencies enjoyed a heyday with this approach, but are now playing catch-up, establishing their own full service offerings.

But, referring back to the title of this brain dump I don’t think integrating or not integrating is the question agencies need to ask themselves. I think that it’s a given that all agencies need to offer their clients the full suite of services, as an example, if you’re an agency of size in WA without a comprehensive digital offering then you risk going out of business in the not too distant future.

Rather than integrating or not integrating services, the real and pressing requirement for all agencies in this industry is to be able to work closely with all our clients’ partners, from other creative agencies, to media agencies and beyond. All clients have different requirements and without an open mind and an open door with regards to collaboration with perceived competitors, I think we will all quickly go out of business.

So I believe the question isn’t really about integration, it’s about collaboration. The ability to collaborate with everyone, no matter what your offering is. And that’s what The Brand Agency is now focusing on.

Article posted by Nick Bayes