We’ve all been throwing around the idea of ‘integrated agencies’ for the last few years now. And by throwing, I mean seriously lobbing it at every potential client and brand to make sure we close the deal and nab the sale. There isn’t an ad agency worth their salt now who would dream of being anything but integrated, and so the natural thing to do is put it in some beautiful copy on the website, integrate it into our pitches (pun absolutely indented) and pat ourselves on the back for staying ‘current and relevant’, or whatever other wanky term the industry is using at this particular moment to communicate just how hip and trendy they truly are.
But the problem with throwing around terms like this is that they start to lose their meaning, and because everyone is using them, they often take on new meanings or they evolve and become something completely different from their original purpose. They basically become a sort of myth. Something passed along by many people that slowly changes over the years.
Which is exactly what’s happened to the idea of an integrated agency. Today it means an agency with huge capabilities across various different channels. For example, a mass retail campaign can require the creative team to brainstorm concepts, researchers to gather information on current spending habits of consumers, an UX designer to lay out the email templates, a social strategist to put together how it will be distributed across social platforms, a writer to create the copy, a videographer to edit the visual elements, a designer to make the copy look compelling and a project manager to bring it all together. That’s a lot of hands on deck and something integrated agencies can provide, and yeah, it all sounds pretty seamless and great.
Except the vital ingredient that we’re all missing is that integrated marketing agencies are a way of working together to fulfil the needs of the client, rather than how many creatives you have on your payroll under one roof. There’s no point in advertising to brands that you can do everything if it doesn’t join up along the way.
We are an agency that has an integrated output, but by that we mean we offer the right solutions for brands, even when they don’t know what that looks like. We try to avoid brands coming to us telling us they want a TV add or a social campaign. There’s no point in that and it’s a waste of our experience. Instead, we want brands to come to us with their problem, that’s all. Tell us your aches and pains and where it hurts, and it’s our job to use an integrated methodology to find the answers. Agencies today will lose their foothold in the industry if they can’t fix problems, because no matter how great the ad was, or how many retweets it got, if it doesn’t convert to basket sales there’s an issue there. It’s our job to run through a creative process, across every damn platform and channel that we can, to find answers and increase revenue, as opposed to blindly accepting what clients want. Naturally, that is not us saying go to war with your clients, definitely don’t do that, but we should be questioning, prodding, poking and peeling apart what they think they want, to find out what they really need. That’s our job. It’s why we exist.