The agency of the future/CAN you live a second life?
So Nick Hurrell and Neil Dawson are leaving their agencies. With a blank client list, they seek to establish a new, revolutionary agency.
But can you live a ‘second life’, away from your former agency/s?
It would seem that you can, but with great difficulty. Look at Red Brick Road or BMB. Both were built around clients that had personal loyalty to the founders (Tesco with Frank Lowe/Paul Weinburger, BMB with FCUK – though not any longer) . Agencies buy into the founders, as you would expect, due to their reputations.
Indeed, I don’t think you can ever escape from your reputation; what’s more, truly original agencies (70’s JWT, Wunderman, 90’s St Luke’s) have added or taken away from commonly held agency processes, and these are too ingrained in agency life to now be overtly destroyed or altered – in fact, i’d make the case that they’ve proven that there will always be a front man/a facilitator/salesman, always a thinker, and always one who creates. Even Mother have ‘mothers’, who are account men of sorts.
JWT were innovative due to bloody good advertising, through Stephen King’s invention of the planner role, Wunderman through his ‘founding’ of DM and subsequent success, and St Luke’s through being a co-op, ensuring every person cared about the agency’s success and output.
I think that agencies continue to add value through being gamblers, as it were (and as naff as that sounds), willing to experiment. It’s why the theoretical brand consultancy will never fully replace the creative agency, even within today’s quantified and neatly packaged ad/business world. The traditional agency will always be around, however diminished certain agencies would have certain roles within it.
To summarise this muddled/mildly confused post; I think you can reinvent yourself, but people are just people, after all – they’ll put their faith in the tried and tested.