A Look Ahead: 3 Emerging Agency Themes in 2018

Out of the darkness, light

But all is not bleakness. A recent American Market Association (AMA) event in Toronto entitled A Look Ahead: the Marketing Landscape in 2018 suggested some positive ways forward. Introduced by Maru/Matchbox’s Matt Chong — President-elect of AMA Toronto — and moderated by Alex Panousis, the event featured talks by five leading thinkers in the agency world: Daniel Shearer of Cossette; Andrew Simon of Edelman; Colleen Peddie of Bensimon Byrne; Steve Waugh of Giants & Gentlemen and Matt Lewis of Momentum Worldwide. From their talks, three critical themes emerged.

Powerful stories that connect to the culture

Stories are the heart of every human connection. That has long been the focus of advertising, but with the move to digital and the shortening of videos to 6 seconds, the focus on stories has been lost, speakers suggested.

Demonstrate value and resist bad procurement

“Clients are questioning value specifically in the big agency process,” said Matt Lewis. That’s putting a lot of pressure on agencies to demonstrate their cost benefit. Procurement’s grinding on costs is undermining value, Andrew Simon suggested. He called for agencies to resist this trend, explaining that “by undervaluing our product, you are undervaluing our industry.” “We need to stand up for the commercial value of creative” and “push back on bad procurement” Shearer recommended.

Open the door for diverse and culturally relevant voices to be heard

“Agencies are losing their market position because many have lost their connection to culture” Lewis declared. With the push to focus on scale and efficiency “we’ve become too similar to our clients” he suggested. Being out of touch with the culture has led to disasters like Pepsi’s Kendal Jenner debacle, according to Shearer. “They lost the context,” he said.

A look ahead

As the agency landscape is reshaped by forces beyond its control, these thought leaders pointed to positive ways ahead. One of the encouraging changes we have seen is agencies getting more involved in owning insight and strategy. To learn more about how Maru/Matchbox is helping agencies chart a positive path forward, check out our agency-focused e-books In the pursuit: a survival guide to insights and Fueling the pursuit — using insights to win or contact us.

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