Can Dentsu’s iProspect rewrite media agency rulebook?

Dentsu International merged Vizeum into digital media agency iProspect last year and now it’s produced what (it hopes is) a spanking new identity, describing itself as a “game changing digital-first end to end media agency.” Which, obviously, is just what the world needs.

It goes on to say it will be the first media agency to offer “performance driven brand building at a global scale.. .born at the intersection, where the science of performance marketing and the art of brand building come together.”

Media agency propositions sometimes remind one of medieval theological arguments dancing on the proverbial pinhead. But there’s a lot riding on this for Dentsu, with iProspect numbering 8,000 people in 93 markets worldwide. Dentsu International, whose brands also include Carat, dentsu X, iProspect, Isobar, dentsumcgarrybowen and Merkle, employs 45,000 in total. iProspect’s new motto is ‘Brands Accelerated.’

Global president Amanda Morrissey (left) says: “We are a new force in the industry, one that draws on decades of expertise carefully brought together to create an agile, scaled, digital first organisation built for the future and delivering today. In fact, the only thing that has stayed the same is the name, but even that looks different.

“With precision and at pace, the new iProspect is able to learn, flex and scale its output to transform a brand’s performance and provide effective business growth; immediately and in the future.”

It’s easy to mock such high-falutin’ promises of course (and why not?) but agencies of all stripes are trying desperately to re-invent themselves in a era when digital takes over half the $600bn or so worldwide ad market. In effect they’re trying to become business consultancies , hoping that their heritage in either creative or media buying will give them an advantage over the likes of Accenture and Deloitte (which have added creative to consultancy.)

In a few years’ time, for example, WPP may be viewed as an ecommerce company with creative and media add-ons.

The problem for the iProspects of this world is attracting and paying for the talent they need. Media agencies still employ thousands of staff, which suggests that the bright new era of technology isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A former senior media executive of my acquaintance said he’d left the industry because another day of spreadsheets was more than he could stand. Top consultancies can charge top dollar just for being in the room (or Zoom.)

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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