Shawn Lim
Oct 14, 2022

CMOs want new agency model where creativity is not siloed

According to a new Dentsu report, CMOs are tired of artificial siloes and want agencies to 'start leading and stop lagging'. But do agencies agree?

Clockwise from top left: Shufen Goh, Vishnu Mohan, Michel de Rijk, Tim Lindley and Michael Patent
Clockwise from top left: Shufen Goh, Vishnu Mohan, Michel de Rijk, Tim Lindley and Michael Patent

A recent study by Dentsu Creative found that 78% of chief marketing officers in the UK, US, China, India and Brazil feel that the siloed agency model is no longer fit for purpose. 

Eighty-two percent want to see agencies seamlessly combine capabilities to deliver new and innovative solutions, agreeing to the comment, "I want to see creative solutions across every aspect of my business—media, commerce and CXM—just as much as in campaigns". 

Agreeing with the report, Michel de Rijk, chief executive officer for the Asia Pacific at S4 Capital, tells Campaign Asia-Pacific the traditional holding company solution is to create a "custom integrated" agency for a client, which brings teams of different agencies together.  

However, de Rijk questions how real this integration is in all these cases.  

"Are they one team operating under a single profit and loss? Or is it more window dressing? The future will tell. Secondly, how siloed are the brands' teams? Are there still different budget holders we need to work with across media, commerce or customer experience management that we need to work with? Finally, are all the internal teams aligned?" he asks. 

Vishnu Mohan, partner and chief growth officer at Dept, says the broader agency universe has a very high representation of legacy agencies for whom making the adjustments at the required pace is a challenge amid internal pushback and costs.  

He points out acquisitions have invariably been the way for them. Still, it has only added to the silo perception as they have not been able to integrate these new assets, which are different in their DNA to the mothership.  

"Digital native agencies have done well standing up to many of these expectations, but most are still either tech-heavy or content-heavy," he explains. 

"The truth is that in today's world of tech-driven consumer behaviour changes, one needs to address the twin needs concurrently and have a perfectly balanced DNA between the two." 

The report also found that 63% of CMOs say that brands need to create rather than borrow from culture, and 84% believe that to connect with younger generations, brands now need to "entertain and engage" to earn attention through entertainment properties or rich virtual experiences. 

CMOs believe that connecting the right diverse talent around their challenges, regardless of siloes or geographies, is the only way to deliver work that will resonate in culture.   

Tim Lindley, managing director for APAC at VaynerMedia, explains brands are built in social as that is where culture unfolds, and conversation happens. So whether it is the Queen's funeral or an egg flip that gets 62 million views on Instagram's Reels, he says platforms are the gatekeepers of attention as the "Tiktokification" of social media.  

In addition, the rise of the interest graph has made it easier for consumers to consume relevant content and avoid anything that is not. 

"There is no one-size-fits-all anymore. Instead, the brands that create relevant creative at scale, for a multitude of different audience cohorts, will win a much bigger share of attention," Lindley explains. 

"Diverse talent is essential. It is impossible to be relevant to a mid-30s dating cohort in Vietnam if you don't have talent that can capture, synthesise, and create around the cultural signals, local platform nuances, and the macro and micro issues that are relevant to this group. The more diverse your talent pool, the more relevant a brand can be to real consumers." 

Michael Patent, founder and president at Culture Group adds successful cultural engagement stems from an inherent understanding of the passion point, the consumer, and the role brands can play in that process. 

He says brands that do this successfully are ‘culturists’ as they provoke and shape culture, rather than follow it. 

"One of the biggest challenges we see with most brands is that their culture knowledge and strategy is based largely on what was presented to them by salespeople from media companies and platforms. It discounts entirely the consumer lifestyle and the role the brand can play," Patent says.

"It’s easily noticeable  which brands understand culture and community, and which brands don’t. Go into your local mall, the store that always has the line outside is usually the one that live in culture, rather than follows it."

85% of clients agree there should be a more intelligent way to scale for a sustainable world, while 76% simply want their agencies to connect the right talent around the proper brief, regardless of where it sits.  

Diverse creative talent is seen by CMOs as a critical enabler of modern creativity, agreeing that differences of thought and background can yield the most robust work. According to the report, clients today demand that agency teams should reflect the diversity of the modern world.  

Shufen Goh, principal and co-founder of R3, says it is great to see that marketers have made the connection between creative excellence and talent diversity. However, she notes most CMOs believe that talent scarcity is a significant blocker to growth.  

"One of the ways marketers can encourage their partners to adopt and continue best practice talent management is by understanding agency ways of working and policies, setting benchmarks, demanding accountability, and encouraging sustainability of such practices through fair compensation," she explains. 

"The big struggle is dismantling structures, updating skillsets and processes built for mass efficient reach, to what consumers respond to, which is more personalised and engaging conversations. Back to the basic principle of being relevant at the right time." 


Campaign Asia

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