Do the roles from a pre-internet era still make sense for the advertising industry?

After my last post, there seemed to be some conversation around what could the various roles in advertising looks like under this new structure of consultancy and production.

It is critical because, while things like data, technology, AI etc are the standard buzzwords used in every conference and plugged into every press release, there hardly seems to be enough discussion about the roles of advertising. Do the roles from a pre-internet era still make sense? Should a job description be more about adding skillsets? If yes, then is it practical in a rapidly evolving industry?

We need to have some honest conversations about these and refocus on the most critical resource- the people, the individuals who make up this business and the roles they play.

Our solution to the evolution of the business has been to add more roles or modify existing ones but change sometimes requires an overhaul. “Seeing things not the way they are but they could be”, so here’s my take on the future of various agency roles:

  1. Copywriter: Somebody who can write well isn’t necessarily great at thinking of ideas or vice versa. Similarly, content writing is typically a different ball game than writing taglines or short copy for a poster/newspaper headline. Currently, we club them under the same role of a copywriter but the role of a (1) idea creator/formulating a storyline should be different from somebody who writes (2) good taglines or banner ads and perhaps someone who is a (3) content writer.

  2. Analytics, data and strategy: With tools evolving and omnichannel strategy allowing for multiple data sources, we need to keep ‘analytics and data’ as a separate role to planning/strategy. Also, ideally brand and business strategy shouldn’t be separate and they should combine. Thus a structure wherein ‘data and analytics’ report into the strategic/consultative partners and the client.

  3. Social media, PR, SEO or content marketing: All three - social media, SEO and PR believe that content marketing is part of their domain, and it is, but this current confusion doesn't do anyone good and no one specializes. Ideally, content marketing on any platform-social media, online articles or the website should be under one head ‘content marketing’ and managing relationships with journalists or influencers should be under another role ‘brand liaison/communication manager’.

  4. Digital creative head or digital planner: this role made sense in 2010 but for it to exist in 2019 is silly. A brand strategy and creative idea should be coherent. You can’t have someone making a creative idea for mainline and the other making for digital and then stitching them together. It’s like one person making the floor plan for the drawing room and kitchen and someone else for the rest of the house and hoping the building will come together. In this regard, Ogilvy India made a smart move a few years back by promoting Kunal Jeswani, who was the digital head to the CEO of the entire company.

Agencies prepare for the future or else you let the future happen to you and you react.

Saurabh Parmar is an ex-entrepreneur that is now a brandlogist, cupidlyand visiting faculty.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.