The future of agencies: creation or management?

As it happens every year, adv business stars are toying with the present and future of advertising in New York’s annual Advertising Week.

Viral, user-generated content and widespread creativity are leading some to believe that agencies will ultimately give up on creation, and will stick to gathering content from many sources, manage it and direct it towards goals indicated by brand strategy.

Such a scenario was also depicted by some commentators of OpenAd, a marketplace for freelance creatives all over the world that can pitch whatever brief on the website, and get rewarded in case their creative idea is chosen, leaving execution at a later stage (if you think it sounds like “it’s not the economy of ideas“, you’re right…)

OpenAd has been granted a wider buzz since it was picked by P&G for the launch of Gillette Fusion, resulting in a winning creative idea from an Indian agency (that will receive a licence fee of 4082$), and four creative executions from a brit art director, a slovenian student, an american creative director and a brit photographer (1000$ each).

Some say agencies in the future will use OpenAd just like other sources, outsourcing creative development, and retaining only strategy, production and account management.

But:

1) Once creativity is outsourced, can’t you do the same with strategy? After all, if you outsource creative work you already lose every opportunity of  that collaboration between strategists and creatives that is often the key driver of outstanding work

2) Hasn’t production been already outsourced to production companies? What’s the value of having ad agencies in the production game, if they have already given up on creative work? What are they there for?

3) Why would account management be worth a fee, if all the content it’ld manage is outsourced? Isn’t the whole progress of the web showing that the management of information will get easier and freer, enough to be handled by someone within the company?

If the future of agencies is an open question, this might not be a sustainable answer.

Final Burp: This is a business built on passion and ideas. How can people from this business believe that it can credibily evolve into some sort of supply management?

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