What will be the secret of successfully winning and doing work over the coming year of economic gloom? And, in a landscape of constant flux, where some agencies are driving further into specialist niches while others reconfigure to create expanded full-service offerings, it also begs a wider question. Given that the current economic climate will have a profound long-term impact on the shape of our industry, will that impact be driven by efficiency savings or effectiveness gains?
The truth is that far too few of the things we create as an industry, from traditional ads to non-traditional experiences, really work and deliver results. So, the opportunity of recession is clear. It’s not to do the ineffective stuff more cheaply, but to spend money far more effectively. Which leaves only one route as we stare into the abyss…total boldness, radical reconsideration of how brands spend their money, and a commitment to reinventing everything.
For some that will mean bigger, fuller-service, more integrated agencies. For others it will mean managing a talented pool of niche suppliers. Whatever it is, it will need to be driven by a commitment to effectiveness, not cheapness. Oh, and just so we’re clear, effective doesn’t always mean measurable (because not everything valuable can be measured, and not everything measurable is of value, but that’s a whole different story).
In 1666, the Great Fire of London devastated a city but also wiped out the plague. In 2009, the world economy is likely to go into a downturn that will burn the financial and business landscape. The risk is not that we fail to react (because we surely will) but that our reaction is cautious and conservative. The opportunity is that we allow our deadwood to be burnt away, and with it the conventions, habits, and tolerance of failure that have driven our industry for far too long.