Industry Updates

How do you see the role of the agency consultant evolving

24 Dec 2011

How do you see the role of the agency consultant evolving globally over the next 3-5 years?

Agency Management and Search Consultants agree on two main issues as they look to the future:

  1. They must become increasingly global in their perspectives and their offerings
  2. There are significant advisory needs to be filled beyond agency reviews and searches.
The global theme was specifically mentioned by several consultants.  When referring to the near future, Dave Beals said, “We will have more stakeholders within companies to work with – from procurement to finance and digital teams.

And increasingly, we will need to be more global. That's why we merged with R3 this year to create R3:JLB, and we're both now investing together in a global consulting solution.”

Marketing Efficiency’s Florence Garnier notes that today’s clients seek greater cooperation as they recognize how they need the global vision supported by the holding companies as well as skilled local agencies conversant in new technologies.

Stuart Pocock, whose London company, The Observatory, is part of Roth Observatory International, raises an interesting issue. “The problem is there are few truly Global Consultants. There are those who will take on Global assignments, but who do not have the true insight into 'local markets'-- and that can be to the Marketers detriment in the long term.

Some consultants purport to have multi-country links, but these are all very loose and generally a collection of people doing their own thing in market and doing it differently.

We set up our global network so you get the same product, quality of insight and proprietary metrics regardless of which of our offices you're dealing with.  Unless Consultants are prepared to invest heavily in developing a true Global offering with all that entails, the Global consultant offering will not materialize.”

When looking ahead to the next several years, Joanne Davis emphasized: “We will continue to provide SME (Subject Matter Expertise) given the growing choice and complexity within the agency universe.”  However, she also believes that if consultants do not have a global network, they will have to create one. 

She admits that her own network, SCAN International, will add more country-partner consultants in growing marketing. 

Yet, she also adds that some of her proudest consulting work has been saving client-agency relationships.  “We’ll see more consulting firms embrace a model of specialized consulting rather than just offering agency reviews.”

Avi Dan says it in a slightly different way.  “With CMOs becoming more concerned with the complexity of managing their global advertising assets, consultants will be asked to go beyond search and devise an architecture for collaboration.

Specifically, CMOs will look at consultants to go beyond subject matter involvement in their business, to an on-going broad leadership role with the agencies, ensuring collaboration.”

Both Jeff Estok and Cam Carter of Navigare would agree. “Our business has seen tremendous growth in strategic advisory services, and we anticipate this growth will continue.  Our relationships have evolved from quarterly and half-yearly

Engagement assessment and reporting to retained consulting projects— Engagement planning and monitoring; SOW build; collaborating with Procurement and Marketing on retainers and PBR; and being engaged by Agencies to mediate where significant barriers to excellence threaten a relationship.

As Clients opt for longer Agency relationships, and fewer reviews, strategic advisory will no doubt continue to be a growth segment for consultants.” Trinity P3’s Darren Woolley elaborates by presenting a broader viewpoint:

“Many consultants have fulfilled a largely tactical role, fulfilling the immediate needs of their marketing clients: a creative agency here, a media agency there. It is largely a needs-fulfillment process with the consultant value based on their market knowledge allowing them to quickly fulfill these tactical needs.

In the next 3-5 years this role will become increasingly more strategic, providing marketers with advice on the 3 Ps — purpose, people and process.”  Woolley defines this as:
  • Identifying the requirements of the marketing team to deliver their purpose in the short-to-long term.
  • Assisting in selecting and developing the people capabilities internally and externally.
  • Creating structures and process to deliver the marketing purpose as effectively and efficiently as possible.
By way of example, he says, “Currently we are working with a FMCG company, who through mergers and acquisition have found themselves with almost ten creative agencies and innumerable other content service providers including sales promotion, research, public relations, sponsorship, digital of various types, graphic design agencies, print management, media, and POP.

This represents almost 100 suppliers in total. Largely this is because across a multitude of brands, supplier selection and management beyond the creative and media agency has been on an ad-hoc basis. We are working with marketing and procurement to define the 3-year needs of the marketing team and then build a strategic supplier alignment plan to achieve their needs.

This requires a more sophisticated approach than simply selecting the ‘right’ agency and involves looking at structures, supplier contracts, compensation / remuneration, process optimization and relationship management designed to deliver the strategic needs of the marketers to maximize their outputs and results, while minimizing wastage, duplication and administration: Increased effectiveness and efficiency.

Simply knowing and understanding the business will no longer cut it. Consulting in this category will be driven by strategic innovation.

About the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company
The IAS (Independent Agency Search and Selection Company) in association with the AAR Group (UK) was founded in South Africa by the *Mazole Holdings Group in 2006. IAS specializes in client/agency relationship management and helping clients find agencies. International associate company AAR Group was founded more than 30 years ago in the UK and has associates and branches throughout the world. The Independent Agency Search & Selection Company is committed to the international and local pitch guidelines as defined by both the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising UK) and the ACA (The Association of Communications Agencies SA).

*Mazole Holdings is a South African company owned 60% by Johanna McDowell and 40% by Dan Moyane. Mazole focuses on building businesses in the marketing and communications space.

Welsina Sekanka
Account Executive
HMC Seswa
Tel: +27 11 704 6618 

Fax: + 27 11 704 6620 

Mobile: 078 813 6958