Merging fields of ad, web and creative agencies

As the marketing world and consumer behaviour evolve, one of the more interesting battle grounds involves the creative process and production. When a marketer plans to make a communication campaign or a shift in brand image, he/she now has a number of alternatives.

As part of any good creative, there is the interrogation on the identity of the brand, questioning on the objectives and strategies…and measurements and channels … and mix of media content, and buzz and memes. All that, plus figuring out the internal decision making processes and/or internal IT challenges (does the boss know about facebook yet…). In short, in a multi-multi-multi world, who should one turn to?

* The (struggling) traditional ad agency trying to stay in the game. Laced with ‘old fashioned’ good sense & strategy, reliable — if not exciting — creative, heavy structures and a little slow in turnaround. Web 2.0 typically considered an alien being. Some have turned a corner, but there’s plenty of work to do.

* The traditional agency’s new fangled integrated or in-house web agency. The bonus is good old fashioned brand values. Some nerds trying to fit in with an agency culture. Otherwise, the risk is old agency style costs.

* The still young independent web agency, fraught with inexperience (misfits in a stodgy corporate world). Vying for credibility, light in consultancy, weak in structure, yet (hopefully) daring in proposition. At best, run by an agency stalwart looking for a new gig.

* A communications expert or consultancy — after all, it’s all about communication (not selling) these days.

* Marketing/brand consultant — appropriate for strategy. But, most of the creative is still going to have to be outsourced. Pay them for breaking the mold.

* Production company — definitely an option with direct access to the client (ever more versed in the lingo), a habit of last minute hup-to, digital equipment, reduced overhead & wannabe creatives. Reminds me of the struggle between architect and contractor. Creative versus budgets.

* The consumer. Slave labour in disguise? Generally in touch with the brand, if not pure consumer sentiment. Something original if not excellent…but just for now.

* Yourself. Have Apple; Will Travail. Can be a little lonely. Need to be super brilliant or super asocial.

In all, it’s a manic world out there. At some point, the main deal will again return to content. In the interim, we have people’s eyeballs are zeroing in on the social networks and other spaces of likemindedness — and, importantly, spaces where sponsors have yet to infiltrate. In all of the above choices, there will be a need for discriminating minds, able writing and flexible wiring to stay up with the Jones’ (literally). Lots of choices to rock your boat. Who will best keep you afloat? And, probably still lots of room for consolidation.