Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leave a trail

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

One of my earliest posts talked about new agency models and in that context I mentioned Anomaly as an agency I admire a lot. Anomaly probably embodies the spirit of Emerson’s statement. I will come to the reason shortly.

The really bad times might be over, with even Paul Krugman admitting that the economic downslide was halted just a few paces short of the abyss. I was hoping that these recessionary times would have seen agencies – the big, small and famous – trying to innovate and hopefully ‘cutting a trail’.

You might ask why.

Budgets were getting slashed and in some cases down to zero plus clients were extremely wary about the market conditions and therefore needing guidance. This was the moment for agencies to truly display ‘partnership’ that they always talk about.

However, partnership and innovation was furthest from any agencies mind. Instead they exhorted clients to spend more (‘spending in recession will make your skin glow’), to be more ballsy and so on. Elaborate presentations and case-studies formed a part of this charade. Suddenly agencies developed new found strengths in digital and emerging media, PR and anything that was the flavour of the hour. WTF!

Did they think that clients would fall for this? Unfortunately by these actions, agency folks got tarred uniformly as hustlers.

If only agency folks practiced what they preached they would have earned the respect of the industry. By experimenting with new engagement models, agencies could have created a ‘disruption’ of sorts. And ‘disruption’ is what we urge clients to do.

Anyway, someone is doing it.

I came across this case-study for Lauren Luke (Courtesy: AdScam) Lauren Luke is a range of cosmetics founded by a 27-year old single mother in South Shields, England.

“As co-owners in the By Lauren Luke brand Anomaly has been involved with the careful development of the By Lauren Luke brand, its promotion through PR and the web plus product development and packaging design. It’s part of the move towards intellectual property(IP) that was always part of the plan”

Lauren Luke’s sales are growing rapidly and they haven’t spent a single penny in advertising. Anomaly by being a co-owner took the risk of building a brand from nothing. They are now reaping the profits.

Agency Nil is another ‘disruptive’ agency model with their clients being other agencies. There is no price but instead want what the client thinks the work is worth to be their fee. Agency Nil is not even a year old and it is difficult to hazard a guess as to their prospects. However, Anomaly has been around for nearly 5 years with an impressive body of work.

I think the agency business in India is not in as bad a shape as it is in other markets like US. They should thank their stars that they continue to have a job and are still profitable.

What if the existing agencies decided to experiment with just one client? Like Anomaly and Lauren Luke? Is that asking a lot?

You cannot expect clients to be ballsy when you are not. Leave a trail or else you will be forced to follow one.

(Image courtesy: tricky)

No comments:

Post a Comment