I was invited to be a moderator on a Wharton panel this week to discuss the role of Agencies today and going forward.  Joined by two rockstars - Swan Sit, VP Digital at Elizabeth Arden + Tammy Eckenswiller, VP Brand Creative at Rebecca Minkoff - our panel was especially interesting because their approach to Creativity is dramatically different.  While Tammy has most creative work handled in-house, Swan has the opposite. 

Of course on the surface, this is an interesting topic within the context of everything that's going on with the "4th Industrial Revolution" but as we dug deeper, it revealed even more intriguing sub-topics that I wish we had more time to talk about.  I thought it might be useful to summarize them here, especially for you fellow Corporate Strategy nerds ;)  

While some are a bit more obvious than others, these are clearly the topics front and center throughout the industry.  I hope this list stimulates some valuable conversations and that I have a chance to chat with my fellow nerds at some point soon on this stuff as you all know I can geek out all day on this stuff!

Here are my 10 takeaways from the experience:

  1. Agencies need to "dog food" transformation as much if not more so than brands in order to keep up with the needs of our clients...if we don't, the Consultants are at the gates ready to step right in...
  2. Brands and Agencies need to roll up their sleeves and cultivate "true partnerships" because the market is moving too fast and the content related demands are too significant to have a traditional "vendor" relationship status
  3. Front-end and back-end tech/digital/IT locking arms on both the brand and agency side, fused with killer Creativity is where the "magic happens"...easier said than done but it's always good to talk about the northstar
  4. Primary concern is keeping up with the challenges/opportunities associated with the overwhelming amount of data, technology and related "shiny objects" and capitalizing on the areas of focus that matter most (insert Signal vs. Noise comment)
  5. Role of content and influence in Audience Development and Consumer Engagement as well as understanding the nuance of global cultures are rocketing up the priority list as the world is "getting smaller" (insert Agency 2.0 value proposition?)
  6. "Being human", as a brand, as an agency, as an executive and as a person is becoming something we all need to pay more attention to as it's easy to become distracted by all the screens, data and all things "techie" (Put your phone down for a hot minute...seriously)
  7. Matching the right agency with the right brand is more complex than it appears and unfortunately agencies that are "claiming that they can do everything" are contributing to buyer confusion but we all know the difference between the results from a diner's menu and a more "focused" restaurant...
  8. Management Consultants moving over to the Brand side in Digital roles as well as founding highly disruptive companies is a trend with implications worth considering and in this guy's humble opinion, a VERY positive development as a big believer in both the Art + Science of Marcomms
  9. Innovation in commercial terms between Brands and Agencies is very exciting and in the right situation, a fantastic way to align interests towards results/outcomes vs. time spent "power point-ing" or "meeting about meetings" and really getting after the #hustle
  10. Agencies need to "dog food" transformation as much if not more so than brands in order to keep up with the needs of our clients...if we don't, the Consultants are at the gates ready to step right in... (yep, #1 is also #10)

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