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Advertising Agencies Investment Social Media Marketing Clients Image Credit: ADWEEK
Advertising Agencies Investment Social Media Marketing Clients Image Credit: ADWEEK

Better, Faster, Stronger

How evolving client-side demands are creating new breeds of agencies.

Patrick Coffee

In today’s fickle market, legacy creative agencies are akin to dinosaurs: lumbering giants fighting over clients’ shrinking budgets while slowly making that all-important pivot to digital.

With anxious CMOs laser-focused on doing more for less, up-and-coming shops are exploring models outside the hourly billings that have governed this industry since the days of smoky, three-martini lunches.

“Ultimately the best, most effective work requires collaboration and trust. But many agency processes work directly against that,” said Chris Denny, founder and president of The Engine Is Red in Sonoma, Calif. “[So] we closed the agency two years ago on a Friday and reopened with a completely different workflow.”

In short, the agency dropped all contractual obligations and instead charges clients daily rates ranging from $700 for a media planner to $1,800 for a partner. The solution seems simple, but it also contradicts everything that makes the biggest advertising companies tick.

New York’s Joan Creative chose a different route by developing six packages that encompass popular services like brand strategy, social media management and broadcast work. “We’re selling deliverables versus time,” said CEO Lisa Clunie, noting these “buckets” are priced “based on what it typically takes for us to do that work.”

“Instead of thinking, ‘What are t


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