Olivia Parker
Mar 7, 2019

Agencies must urgently upskill talent to meet CMO needs

At Campaign360, three senior agency representatives and a "client in the hot seat" discussed how a skills gap in agency talent is leaving the door open for consultancies.

L-R: Campaign's Faaez Samadi, Anita Kanal, Pierre Robinet, Leigh Terry and Joanna Catalano at Campaign360
L-R: Campaign's Faaez Samadi, Anita Kanal, Pierre Robinet, Leigh Terry and Joanna Catalano at Campaign360

Catch up with all coverage of Campaign360, Campaign's flagship conference on the business of advertising, here

Agencies should be training their staff to become “augmented strategists”, according to Pierre Robinet, senior consulting partner at Ogilvy Consulting, speaking on a panel titled “What’s Your Worth?” at Campaign360. “Continuous learning” should be provided to get talent up to a higher level of professional capability, he said.

“When you look at how CMOs are looking to be advised at a very high strategy level, of course you need more capable people in all agencies to bring them such advice,” continued Robinet. The need for media agencies to improve their strategic teams is part of the reason they are having to compete more and more with consultancy firms, he said.

Consultancies build their business around an industry expertise, and platforms such as Google and Facebook are doing the same thing, noted Joanna Catalano, APAC CEO of iProspect. But in their quest to compete, agencies are frequently bound by conflicting MSAs. Catalano agreed that upskilling employees and investing in their future is crucial. iProspect’s Australian office recently made a bid to do this by building “very detailed, very specific learning paths” for each of the 16 roles in the business, she shared.

“This was not a small undertaking,” said Catalano. “These are the types of investments we are going to have to make… because it can’t continue the way it is. To stay at the forefront we need to make these kinds of investments because we need to be able to convey a specialism to a client.”

As the “client in the hot seat” on a panel of agency staff, Anita Kanal, APAC vice president of consumer marketing for Visa, said she wanted to impress on the audience that brands are facing as many challenges as agencies. “Just as the media landscape [has become] so fragmented, every business is undergoing some level of disruption,” she said. When she thinks about value, Kanal said, the business problem she is trying to solve is always top of mind.

“What is the need of the market here, what is it we are trying to achieve and how can our agency partners help us to achieve that?” she said. “And it rarely starts with ‘I need to run a TV campaign.’ That’s not what good briefs look like. It starts with ‘we’re trying to get people in India to use less cash and more tap-to-pay sort of payments’. So how you go about doing this at a business level first, and then how does that translate to our media, our business, our creative strategy?”

“When the data and the creativity come together so beautifully that it’s almost invisible to the end user, you know you’ve hit your goal, which is you wanted to hit that person with the message at the right time in the right medium,” she continued. “But importantly, always linked back to what is the business strategy. If it doesn’t meet that business goal, we’ve all failed.”

“I’d love to have this conversation more often with my client,” said Catalano in response. “For us, it’s absolutely bottom of the funnel, it tends to be a fairly tactical conversation and i agree with Anita, it should not be.”

Leigh Terry concurred. “Media agencies shouldn’t just be about price—price is just one facet of value,” said the CEO of IPG Mediabrands APAC. “So in terms of involving agency stakeholders in those business strategy conversations rather than just the communications ones, and having clearly defined metrics...I think more of those conversations...will determine what part of the sandpit we play in, but just as importantly the value that we add and [how] ultimately we should be remunerated as businesses.”

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