Byravee Iyer
Sep 15, 2013

Co-creation changing the agency model

SPIKES ASIA 2013 - Spurred by digitisation and the growth of social media, consumers are no longer just a source of insights and revenue but are increasingly generating ideas—and raising questions over the relevance of creative agencies, according to Joel Cere, the global insights and innovation director of Eyeka.

Toru Fuji, senior creative director, Asatsu-DK
Toru Fuji, senior creative director, Asatsu-DK

The morning session on day one at Spikes Asia 2013 highlighted the pressure to deliver creative solutions and the urgent need to rethink the model of an agency. Cere was joined by Kenichiro Omori, head of the global business division of Asatsu-DK, Japan’s third-largest full-service advertising agency, and Toru Fuji, senior creative director at the same agency.

Cere opened the session with a discussion on crowdsourcing in the context of innovation. There has been a fundamental shift in the way brands connect with consumers. Recalling the 1980s, Cere said it was all about making television commercials and creating “brand love”. Today, people hardly watch TV and instead learn about new campaigns from friends on Facebook and Twitter. He went so far as to say that people have become media. “It’s really about the conversation and the content we create,” Cere said. “Brand love is not enough, and today successful brands offer something that people want to participate in.”

Marketers are playing catchup all the time and agencies are feeling that squeeze. “You have to deliver fresher campaigns and reach out to new consumers faster with lesser resources,” Cere observed. As a result, agencies are seen as treasure chest full of precious stones. He questioned whether creativity—like diamonds—are in limited supply. “Is it a rare commodity that we need to keep it in a box?”

In reality creativity is abundant, but accessing it is important, he noted. Citing Coca-Cola as an example, Cere said that there are more than 28,000 videos created for the cola company by consumers. Marketers and clients are starting to notice this. “Consumers are no longer a source of insights or revenue, but a source of ideas,” said Cere. “That’s why I believe very strongly that the future agency mode is more like a collaborative ecosystem.”


None of the above is surprising coming from Eyeka, which is in the business of helping companies like Unilever crowdsource creative insights. Co-creation agencies like Eyeka typically issue competition notices calling for entries and present the participants with a brief. At stake is prize money worth anywhere between €5000 and €20,000 (US$6,600 and  US$26,600) and consumers are given a three- to five-week deadline. Agencies play a critical role in the briefing process that helps extract sound ideas.

Cere said it’s not just about the winning entries. Often, the agency looks at all the ideas together and extracts trends that lead to even more solutions.

Fuji and Omori of Asatsu-DK said that co-creation is widening the range of ideas from agencies. The rationale for the change was simple. Powered by social media, new media is fragmented, selective, sharable and personalised, and there was a strong need to produce sharable content in the digital space. “Consumers can directly participate in value creation, and we found a new way to produce sharable content in the digital space,” said Fuji.

According to Omori, the agency’s head of global business, results have already started to show. “We have a hungrily engaged creative community, abundant source of insights and sharable content, deeper relationships with clients and stronger business sustainability.”

Conversely, there is a concern that agencies could become less relevant, Omori admitted. Still, the return on investment is far greater. As a general trend, Omori said there has been a dial up relevancy in clients’ communication process and more effective, efficient and speedier marketing solutions.

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