In his inimitable way, my good friend and Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson recently told the Festival of Marketing his previous understanding of the meaning of agility: “hot-desking and an org chart that no-one can understand”.
With the evidence of the pandemic fresh in all our minds, even Mark has had to accept there may be more to it than that. As he told the session we hosted, “companies quickly worked out what was coming down the pike and changed not just comms but product and price quickly enough to be able to handle things – in weeks”.
Every company is having to rethink its approach to respond to this new state of play. Not only do businesses need to be agile to react to ever-changing lockdown restrictions at the blink of an eye, they also need to stay across the broader trends taking place as the pandemic influences the way consumers choose to shop, the way employees wish to work, and the services and products they want to buy.
Being fleet of foot and able to adapt to change has been critical in times as uncertain as these.
When it became impossible for many of our clients, including many of the world’s biggest brands, to shoot new video output, our marketing production teams adapted. What content could we help clients refresh, reuse, re-purpose or re-imagine? As it turned out, the answer was: a lot.
During lockdown we worked with Lexus to shoot an ad for its newly released UX black edition. We obviously couldn’t film on location or with the car itself so we helped the company to work around the problem. We created the car and the environment, from the roads to the headlights, entirely out of CGI. Rather than scrap a campaign, Lexus was able to be agile and respond to the moment.
Similarly, other clients had content assets – some forgotten, some neglected, some never used – that with the help of Tag’s skill and creativity could be brought swiftly into service to support their campaigns.
Content reimagination will become far more important and should be at the heart of any marketer’s strategy in the coming years. Making your content work harder just makes sense. In the face of shrinking budgets and increased pressure to perform, reducing asset wastage – and therefore cost – will be key to coming through the recession successfully.
The new Tag
As a new arrival at Tag – joining as EMEA CEO at the beginning of the year – seeing the type of work we were doing to support clients in this incredibly tough time was an encouraging sign of a new impetus and momentum in the business.
Tag has been around for years – it is an international leader in marketing production, with specialist talent that spans the globe from Australia to the Americas, and from India to Europe. But until it was acquired by Advent International three years ago, the business had been overlooked within the sprawling Deutsche Post.
Coming in, I was struck by the depth and breadth of expertise under the hood at Tag. The problem was that no one knew about it. Too many people thought of Tag as a print shop, a reprographics house. Too few of our potential clients knew what we could do in CGI, or with multi-channel, multi-country campaigns.
We had become too complex, and it was holding us back. Our skills were tucked away in too many places, hidden behind shopfronts that were the legacy of past acquisitions. Crucially, that was making it difficult for clients to access the depth of our expertise.
This was our chance to make a fresh start. So with our customers in mind, we tackled that pesky org chart.
Our new set-up is helping clients see the breadth of skills and services we have to offer, and our clearer structure has enabled more collaboration within our teams.
We’ve enormously simplified the Tag brands with which we go to market, uniting all of our content creation businesses, from the likes of Smoke & Mirrors to Big Buoy, in Tag Collective Arts and our sourcing capabilities under Tag Sourcing Network. We now operate as one Tag, one team – no silos, and no unnecessary complexity.
And that’s what clients want – an agency that has the ability to talk to one multidisciplinary team that understands the problem you’re facing and can bring you the right people, in the right places, to deliver a bespoke solution, and capable of working well with the partners of the client’s choice.
The importance of partnership
Putting clients first has provided a powerful reminder of the importance of partnership. Being able to collaborate effectively, with trust and respect, can be the foundation for success.
We have recently won three significant global mandates in partnership with other agencies – working alongside Publicis Production and ITG on behalf of GSK Consumer Healthcare, and with The & Partnership for two well-known consumer goods businesses. In each case, the quality of our collaboration with our partners was key. Combining the global production expertise of Tag with The & Partnership’s creativity and Publicis’s media might unlocked the possibility for clients to benefit from a smarter and more efficient marketing production model.
Being fleet of foot and able to adapt to change has been critical in times as uncertain as these. With talk of a vaccine being with us by early next spring, there is hope that we are winning the battle against Covid-19. However, there is an economic war ahead as we head into a recession.
Marketers will need to enlist experts who can be agile and respond to a situation at a moment’s notice. Closely observing the changing landscape, whether that be how a particular geography is responding to Covid-19 or Brexit, means you can produce work that is relevant and has impact.
This is where agencies can really shine – becoming the advisers who can help a client think creatively around an obstacle.
Andria Vidler is EMEA CEO of Tag.