‘Agencies must deliver more value to sit on the top table’

Speaking in a panel discussion at IPA’s Commercial Conference 2015 today (July 8), HSBC’s global head of marketing Amanda Rendle said that ad agencies are facing a threat from management consultancies pitching to brands.

What brands want from their agencies

Rendle said KPMG had offered its services on advertising to HSBC “for nothing” up front on several occasions and warned that agencies must ensure that they bring “true value” consistently to brands.

She said: “If an agency doesn’t bring ideas and value that your own business cannot deliver than management consultancies will move in on their patch.

“I’d prefer creativity came from an agency over a managing consultant but we simply aren’t getting useful data delivered consistently enough and that’s what has to happen to get marketing more engrained within the business. It’s KPMG who are doing workshops with my board not ad agencies.”

In the same panel discussion Chris Hirst, CEO designate of the Havas Group, claimed agencies are not communicating their strengths to agencies well enough.

He said: “I think we need to make sure brands are aware that agencies are emotional rather than dry and rational like a KPMG. There isn’t enough agencies sat on the top table which is a shame but we can change that.”

Speaking at a presentation earlier in the day, Professor Noreen Hertz argued that agencies and brands were still slow to change.

Among ‘Generation K’ – 13 to 20 year olds – only 6% trust major brands to do the right thing compared to 60% of adults, according to Hertz.

“You have to wake up to change as to a two year old a magazine is a broken iPad,” she explained.

“The consumption of media will radically change as ‘Generation K’ grows – marketing has to evolve with that as at the moment it is perhaps moving too slowly.”

In order to remain relevant among brands, agencies should abandon the pitching process altogether, according to Mark Boyd of digital agency Gravity Road.

He argued: “Agencies must strive for long running formats that will outlive the creator not just short-lived campaigns.

“I think too many agencies are won over by the thrill of the pitch but that process is overly commoditised and worth ignoring. The key is to be different and to talk to the client consistently from an early stage – pitches shouldn’t be the only thing to connect agencies and brands.”