Integrated agencies

By The Drum, Administrator

February 28, 2006 | 9 min read

Last year the ‘integrated versus specialist’ debate escalated into a full-blown argument that lasted three months. We loved it. In fact, we loved it so much that we decided to reopen that delectable can of worms once again.

With last year’s discussion beginning with the specialist argument, we decided that this year it should be the integrated community that gets to stake their claim first.

Therefore we’ve contacted a few of our full-service friends and asked them to help us compile the top 10 reasons why integrated is the way to go for clients.

So, what do you say? Is one partner enough to satisfy your every need? And how do you know if you have the right one? Hopefully this feature can shed some light on one of the mostly hotly debated issues in the marketing world today.

01 Objectivity

\"Integrated agencies are best placed to respond to these expectations, conveying vital and targeted brand messages through the right channels at the right time.\" Charles Glover, Managing Director, Dig For Fire.

\"If you are truly integrated you are channel-neutral and that means you offer the discipline best suited to solve the client’s problem as opposed to simply selling the specific disciplines you offer.\" Sue Little, Chief Executive, McCann Erickson Communications House (Manchester).

\"Integrated agencies are founded on the principle of addressing the marketing communications challenge and offering clients what they need rather than simply what the agency does.\" Colin Sneath, Managing Director, Native.

\"There’s no bias in favour of one area of expertise. There’s no pigeonholing. We don’t force clients down a particular route and we don’t try and fit the agency to the brief!\" Liane Salthouse, Deputy Managing Director, Pavilion Communications.

02 A collective goal

\"A full service agency has a desire to collectively do well for the client, especially when planning a campaign or when last minute requirements need to be fulfilled. Commitment is never in question and there is no hint of suspicion regarding people’s motives. This leads to a more open and communicative relationship, so the media planners work hand in glove with the account handlers and creative teams to produce campaigns with high impact.\" Matt Fleming, Chairman, Aylesworth Fleming.

\"The days of advertising, PR and DM all operating in independent silos and achieving their own independent goals, but under the same agency roof, are outmoded and largely irrelevant to the needs of the majority of UK businesses. Integrated agencies have developed sophisticated and more joined-up measurement to a collective goal and are better structured to achieve such goals.\" Dean Lovett, Chief Executive, McCann Erickson Communications House (Birmingham).

03 Consistency

\"Campaigns contain no inconsistencies; the brand voice/tone/look and feel are all controlled in one place and ultimately benefit the client greatly.\" Matt Fleming.

\"How can the thinking be totally ‘joined up’ if each agency is working in splendid isolation? There’s even more pressure on the client to ensure that common strategy is being executed.\" Alan Boyden, Joint Managing Director, BC-S/director, GBCS-PR.

\"We get our strategy and creative execution right first and then apply one idea across all media in an integrated and consistent way. Say one thing. Say it well. Be consistent.\" Nick Bacon, Chief Executive, Bray Leino.

\"When you take the big idea through the chosen mix of media you need to play to the strengths of that media. You need to really understand each media to make the idea come alive but you also need to make sure the idea remains consistent. That’s not easy but it’s a lot easier to do under one roof.\" Peter Rivett-Jones, Director, Poulters.

04 Relationships

\"As many companies are reducing their in-house marketing resources, it can be a struggle dealing with a number of different agencies. An integrated agency with one or two points of contact can be a much more attractive option for marketing teams.\" Charles Glover.

\"Working with a single supplier fosters a greater sense of being ‘in it together’ and leads to long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial.\" Greg Wilson, Account Director, NXO.

\"Integrated agencies are able to get under the skin of a client’s business and understand the marketing objectives a lot better since they are party to the whole plan rather than just one section of it. This means that it is easier to develop a lasting and rounded relationship with the client since the agency is working as an extension of the client’s business rather than a supplier who is completing a one-off DM or POS job.\" Karen Perry, Client Services Director, Madhouse.

05 Time saving

\"The last thing a client needs is an endless list of marketing and creative suppliers to meet, brief and explain the latest change in strategy/product/market/budget etc. It’s hardly surprising that they find the proposition of a fully integrated agency so attractive.\" Kerry Nicholls, Client Services Director, Dinosaur.

\"All of our clients are time poor and they demand a quick turn around which means we need to deliver a greater efficiency. Generating marketing briefs and sustaining the clients’ messages across different channels using numerous agencies can be highly inefficient and often complicated.\" Gordon Bethell, Joint Managing Director, Gratterpalm.

\"Using an integrated agency ensures there is a single point of contact for all marketing activities. This leads to time efficiency for the client when it comes to managing their campaigns, as they don’t need to contact many people or spend time travelling to and attending meetings.\" James Goddard, Managing Director, JJ.

\"Client marketing departments are increasingly under pressure. It’s no longer always possible for them to have dedicated staff responsible for the individual disciplines of the marketing mix.\" Ian Halley, Director, RBH.

06 Financial

\"Budgets are tight, so why not use an integrated approach to ensure that economies of scale are achieved from a client’s budget? Volume deals, retrospective discounts and extended payment terms are much easier to negotiate with a single source.\" Alan Boyden.

\"Integration is not the cheap option but we believe there are real efficiencies to be made. It’s not rocket science to say that it will cost less to work with one agency than it will to work with three or four.\" Peter Rivett-Jones.

\"The more work one client puts through an agency, the more cost efficient the relationship with that agency can become. We offer remuneration arrangements designed to encourage our wider use across more areas of the client’s marketing mix.\" Ian Halley.

\"Value (and don’t confuse that with savings) is delivered by management of ideas, not just management of costs. Best value is linked with operating through-the-line, by making savings (time, effort and ultimately money) without compromising the output.\" Brian Adcock, Business Development Director, Robson Brown.

07 Brand guardianship

\"Becoming almost an extension of the company itself, an integrated agency is able to live and breathe the company’s values, whilst still remaining objective enough to provide a visionary approach with strategic direction.\" Stefan Lepkowski, Joint MD, Karol.

\"Having an integrated agency provides the best possible brand guardian, which relieves the client of the task of having to police the way in which the brand is used by a variety of different marketing suppliers.\" Kerry Nicholls.

\"A fully integrated agency can offer its clients a complete understanding of their business, acting almost as an extension of the in-house marketing team.\" Gordon Bethell.

08 Squabble-free

\"From the client’s point of view he is getting much more objective and balanced marketing advice and support, with a single point of contact if he wishes, and the end to squabbling between suppliers and marketing disciplines over how his budget is sliced up.\" Chris Lovell, Chief Executive, Golley Slater.

\"Some of the top five listed marketing groups have a reputation for having different communications agencies who are strong in their respective sectors, but when asked to work collaboratively, fall into the trap of competing with one another. It is only natural that with conflicting financial objectives, each agency will fight for budget to be assigned to their discipline, even though this may actually be to the detriment of the client’s needs. The client deserves unbiased counsel when creating the communications mix and the flexibility to respond to change quickly as a campaign evolves.\" Mike Phillipson, Managing Director, Propaganda.

09 Expertise

\"Integrated agencies house an array of professionals under one roof, all with specific skills and sharing an impressive range of experience and knowledge. By simply making one phone call a client can connect with a team of experts who provide a holistic approach to marketing a product or service.\" Stefan Lepkowski.

\"Working with an agency which offers all the marketing specialisms gives the client the advantage of efficiently accessing quality advice on all communication channels. It is an effective means of simplifying the management and implementation process, enabling the client to draw on teams of experts through one central point of contact, without compromising on the quality of advice.\" John Morgan, Joint Managing Director, Brahm.

\"Because an integrated agency employs people from all marketing disciplines and backgrounds it means that clients get a much broader perspective and viewpoint from an integrated provider than they could ever hope for from separate single discipline agencies and that generally means more innovative solutions to problems and issues.\" Sue Little.

10 Easy management

\"Choosing an integrated agency offers a client the chance to work with a single partner that can have a complete overview of that client, their business and their goals. Working outside an integrated agency means dividing business needs across a range of different agencies which then leaves the client with the inevitable task of integrating the work undertaken by each one.\" Karen-Anne Bernie, Managing Director, Wyatt International.

\"With our full breadth of skill-sets, we are able to exploit each service appropriately and manage all elements of the campaign more effectively. By keeping clients fully informed of all activities at each stage, client involvement is reduced but campaigns achieve maximum results.\" Liane Salthouse.


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