While day-to-day contact can often be effectively replaced with video conferencing, to get the best content and deliver the strongest campaigns travel is often essential. Dave Reed, co-founder of Giants & Titans, discusses how its search for the best content has taken the agency from the UK to San Francisco, Miami, the Netherlands, and Norway in a short four months.
It wasn’t all that long ago that brands felt that to deliver a global campaign they needed a global agency. Having worked in one of the big networked agencies I’ve seen both the advantages and disadvantages to this approach. On one hand you have potential access to local knowledge, on the other this would often come at a hefty price tag and the agency presence in a given location may not always be the best option for local activation. Buying into an agency network would commonly mean the client was tied into an effective monopoly.
Thankfully, rapid improvements in communications technology means that this is no longer the case. Small agencies with strong credentials can work with businesses across the world to deliver global campaigns. Marketers can now choose to work with the best agency for their business rather than the one that happens to be on their doorstep.
While email, video conferencing, instant messaging and the wider availability of information online have all made working with global brands a possibility, perhaps the greatest side-effect of working with a business in another country is how effective it makes the face to face meeting. One of the biggest frustrations for in-house marketers can be the ‘work in progress’ meetings where as many as six members of the account team turn up to discuss day-to-day activity. Both sides know that this will have a cost, more often than not in a reduction on the amount of time spent on campaign delivery.
No matter how many improvements are made to video conferencing, however, there will always be a need for face-to-face meetings. Marketing is essentially a people-focused business, whether it’s the relationships we build with our clients, or the emotional response we seek to elicit from consumers. As with any element of a client relationship we look to ensure that when we travel, we’re doing so in order to generate a real benefit for our client or campaign.
Face-to-face meetings are a lot less transactional, more fluid and more likely to generate a real emotional response than even the best Skype meeting can give. As opposed to mundane ‘box-ticking’ meetings, international meet ups provide much more time to get to know the client, understand their challenges and work in close collaboration with them to develop a solution.
Currently, we’re working on a campaign that has seen us travel across Europe and the USA. Where needed we’ve partnered with other independent agencies locally to help us achieve what we need. This is where we rely on our head of production to find the right partners from across the world. Fortunately, where a networked agency would most likely have an option of one local partner - their affiliated office - we have the choice of two or three likeminded, ambitious independents who we know will be able to deliver the best result for the client. Throughout the campaign there has been a consistent sense of direction with on the ground support from the key members of our team at every shoot.
Advancements in communications technology have meant that marketeers no longer need to rely on local agency presence but can make use of the best creative minds from across the globe. Whereas in the past UK agencies, often seen as the best in the world, would only be considered if they had offices in six of the seven continents, marketing directors and CMOs are increasingly switching on to the idea of small, smart and agile.
We’re fortunate here in the UK that English remains the international language of business and that we have a strong reputation for delivering incredible campaigns. Advancements in technology have opened up agencies like us to a global market, but in order to benefit we need to live up to and surpass that reputation on every single campaign. Travel is always going to be a key part of that. Those willing to literally go that extra mile will make the biggest impact with clients and campaigns.
This article was first published in The Drum Network's print supplement. Members of The Drum Network receive and have the opportunity to write for our print magazine, which is distributed to other relevant members and brands in print and on our app.