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Can others muscle in on creativity as ad holding companies retreat?

Advertising has always been an easy business to enter but, on the creative side anyway, a hard one to scale. By and large the big one-time Madison Avenue agencies have dominated proceedings, planting their flags around the globe to attract international clients and most of the big domestic ones.

The model is now collapsing as, with a couple of exceptions (Publicis and Omnicom) the big ad holding groups are struggling to make money from creative and even these two are below historic growth rates. Which opens the field to other contenders as the ad holding groups look elsewhere.

PR companies occasionally dip a toe into these turbulent waters and IPG’s Weber Shandwick has hired London ad veteran Yan Elliott (below) as CCO. Elliott has worked in senior roles at Mother, Lucky Generals, The&Partnership and recently filled in at AMV BBDO.

At the same time media independent the7stars’ second agency Bountiful Cow (named after another pub) has won the full service business of healthcare provider Wellsoon with creative by the group’s creative arm Supernova. Which does the job.

Of course there have always been PR companies, media agencies (who went through a phase of hiring CCOs a while back but mostly thought better of it) and others trying to gain extra revenue through creative. But the field is more crowded now with, inter alia, the rise of actor-based agencies like Ryan Reynolds’ and Idris Elbas’s and big production companies attempting to offer strategy and account handling.

As the one-time Madison Avenue giants (WPP should be included in this, Sir Martin Sorrell built the business by buying the likes of JWT, Y&R, Ogilvy and Grey) retreat from creativity there are real opportunities for others. But will any of them have the staying power to take them?

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