It’s a truism to say that advertising has changed dramatically in recent years – the interesting thing is that, by and large, agencies have not.
Yes, they do different things but the eco-system is broadly the same: holding companies; the big agency networks (nearly all holding company owned) and smaller independents. Some might say this means too many agencies chasing brand owner business that’s desperately trying to consolidate to save costs.
It must be an issue for the likes of WPP and Omnicom. As more and more clients call for network pitches, do you need all these brands?
Another story doping the rounds is that WPP is considering merging RKCR/Y&R with CHI & Partners, Johnny Hornby’s construct which now sits in the middle of a newish WPP network, The&Partnership. This wouldn’t be as straightforward as it sounds as WPP owns 49 per cent of CHI.
But Young & Rubicam (as it then was) in London had to be bailed out all those years ago by merging it with high-flying indie agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, so the template is there. It’s what Interpublic did much more recently with FCB and Inferno. But there aren’t many indies out there that could possibly rejuvenate an agency as important as RKCR/Y&R – now facing a review of its valuable Lloyds business against the dreaded adam&eveDDB – so maybe it will be Hornby to the rescue.
This, if it happens of course, could be a quick fix and the overall agency structure will remain. But it’s hard to see why the holding companies still need so many agency brands.