What's Old Is New
ADWEEK|February 4, 2019

Agency Consolidation May Be On The Way As Creative And Media Come Together Again.

Lindsay Rittenhouse

Last June, a bizarre campaign known as “IHOb” had social media users buzzing about the possibility of the International House of Pancakes turning into the International House of Burgers ... or Bacon? Biscuits?

That stunt garnered 1.2 million tweets and over 15,000 earned media stories in 10 days and was the result of a true collaborative effort on the parts of both media and creative—IPG agencies Initiative and Droga5, respectively. Initiative, earning a place on Adweek’s list of Best Media Plans of 2018 for the effort, saw the need to make IHOP into more than a weekend breakfast destination and was behind a series of mysterious social media posts that led to the debut of the chain’s Ultimate Steakburgers. The latter was unveiled in Droga5’s creative.

“We collaborate very closely with Initiative, and they have been excellent partners in helping us not only get to better work but in making sure it has the biggest impact and reach,” said Droga5 chief media officer Colleen Leddy. “The partnership is especially valuable in that we are truly partners: We look for solutions together and generally come together with a joint [point of view].”

With the emergence of new technologies and advanced marketing capabilities driven by data and analytics, and as a new generation of agency leaders rises, partnerships in which media and creative agencies work closer in tandem for clients are becoming the norm. Clients are increasingly consolidating their advertising needs with one agency or holding company, and it has some speculating whether this will eventually result in creative and media being placed under the same roof again.

“Significant media and advertising budgets changed hands in [the fourth quarter of 2018] with pitches that combined creative, data and media,” said Forrester principal analyst Jay Pattisall. “We’re also seeing digital and performance agencies like 360i, Ansira, Merkle combine media and creative execution. Based upon this trend, I expect to see the consolidation of media and creative services in one or more of the major agency holding companies in 2019.”

Housing media and creative—and everything else for that matter—together offers several advantages, including allowing creatives to respond and adjust campaigns in real time based on audiences’ reactions, and being able to lean further on data to influence creative ideas. This shift has been happening for several years, but it’s gaining momentum.

Madwell co-founder and CEO David Eisenman said “nine out of 10 RFPs” the agency received in 2018 included both a media and creative element, driven by the “new guard,” or millennials, who are stepping into C-suite roles and rethinking how all the elements of advertising can work together.

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