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Polyamoryfication of adland: Why are brands getting together with multiple agency partners?

The trend of multiple agencies being hired by marketers can be attributed to multiple factors including customer segmentation, younger cohorts and legacy agencies falling short on the promise of integration. Specialized agencies with unique capabilities are becoming essential in helping companies connect with younger consumers across emerging platforms. The trend of multiple agencies being hired by marketers can be attributed to multiple factors including customer segmentation, declining attention spans of younger cohorts and legacy agencies still stuck in old ways of brand building.

By  Saumya TewariMay 30, 2023 9:40 AM
Polyamoryfication of adland: Why are brands getting together with multiple agency partners?
Specialized agencies with unique capabilities are becoming essential in helping companies connect with younger consumers across emerging platforms. (Representational image: Burkhard Kaufhold via Unsplash)

Britannia Industries, which sells biscuits, snacks and breads, works with multiple agencies to create interesting campaigns for both mainline and digital platforms. Amit Doshi, chief marketing officer, Britannia Industries Ltd told Storyboard18 that the traditional AoR (agency on record) paradigm seems to have been challenged in recent times with the emergence of multiple breakaway boutique agencies.

“…in today’s times, an idea can come from anywhere. And while each agency partner plays a specific role, collaboration among agency partners is critical to make the winning idea shine,” he says. Wakefit, a D2C sleep wellness company, is known for its quirky campaigns such as Sleep Internship, Waketfit Trikea and Approved by Kumbhakaran campaigns. The company has worked with agency partner Spring Marketing Capital for the last 3-4 years.

Prateek Malpani, head of brand marketing, Wakefit also shares that the company does work with specialist agencies on a project basis.

“They (Spring Marketing Capital) work on all our key ATL campaigns and online content. We do speak to certain specialist agencies that excel at a certain type of video content which is technical or functional or some other agencies that specialize in content creation as well as distribution,” he notes.

Clearly, specialized agencies with unique capabilities are becoming essential in helping companies connect with younger consumers across emerging platforms.

Pallavi Chakravarti, founder and CCO, Fundamental, an independent advertising agency tells Storyboard18 that this trend is happening because while agencies promise a one-stop-shop experience, most are unable to deliver on it.

CRED’s most recent ad campaign for Bidblast that mimicked newspaper classified ads took the internet by storm. The ad was created by a three-year old meme marketing agency called Youngun. Known for its humour led campaigns, the 30-people strong agency has also worked with Netflix, Myntra and Spotify. All these brands also have big creative agencies on board as well but they also choose to work with specialist agencies such as Youngun that know how to get the attention of younger millennials and GenZ consumers. Saksham Jadon, founder of Youngun believes that GenZ consumers are interested in things which are hyped, be it negative or positive. Hype creates conversation which leads to FOMO (fear of missing out) that is followed by the consumption of product/service in question. Sounds perhaps a bit too simplistic, to some ears. But Jadon is convinced the method works and gets clients what they want. To explain further, he uses an unique analogy.

“For example, we are seeing the sneaker culture because it has such a hype around it. Same is the case with brands. The consumption of the digital first generation is driven by hype. People are flaunting their association with a brand that has gone viral. It is one of the strong reasons that is driving consumption among GenZ consumers,” he tells us.

Pros and Cons

The trend of multiple agencies being hired by marketers can be attributed to multiple factors including customer segmentation, declining attention spans of younger cohorts and legacy agencies still stuck in old ways of brand building.

Pallavi Chakravarti, founder and CCO, Fundamental, an independent advertising agency tells Storyboard18 that this trend is happening because while agencies promise a one-stop-shop experience, most are unable to deliver on it.

Clearly, specialized agencies with unique capabilities are becoming essential in helping companies connect with younger consumers across emerging platforms.

“Hiring the right kind of people to make sure that each and every function is correctly equipped is a Herculean task given the constant attrition and shrinking talent pool available to agencies. Then making sure that each team works in harmony is an even bigger challenge - I think it’s fair to say that integration is easier in theory than it is in practice. This is probably why we’re seeing a trend of marketers moving to a multi-agency partnership model,” she explains.

Chakravarti believes there are pros and cons to this trend. The upside is this encourages specialisation and in the long run, this has the potential to result in lean structures, better-paid and happier employees and more mutually satisfying client-agency relationships.

“On the flip side, fragmentation means much more effort will be needed (from both the client and agency partners) to make sure that the brand speaks in one voice. This will mean setting egos and independent agendas aside so that synergy is achieved,” she adds.

Integration is the key

Independent agency Wondrlab India's founder and CEO Saurabh Varma says that there are larger forces of marketing and technology at play where companies are leveraging technology to transform their brand and marketing.

Varma says that clients now wish to work with the best but they may not have AoR (agency on record) for everything because no single partner can solve their problem.

“Things have changed in our industry so much so that today a marketer’s tech budget might be greater than a CTO’s tech budget. There is emergence of new designations such as “Chief Experience Officer” or “Chief Transformation Officer” , someone who sits between the CMO and CTO,” he explains.

CMOs, in many cases, are responsible for the cost per lead that the performance agency delivers, Varma notes.

The trend of multiple agencies being hired by marketers can be attributed to multiple factors including customer segmentation, declining attention spans of younger cohorts and legacy agencies still stuck in old ways of brand building.

“The CMO already is looking at the website as the mode of delivery. The CMO today, especially if you're a D2C brand, is responsible for the channel. CMO is responsible for helping you win on Amazon. When you look at the full funnel, big brands have different agencies – PR firm, social media, performance agency along with two to three creative agencies,” he notes.

Varma, however, points out there is finding the right balance between the marketing transformation and digital business transformation objectives.

“Therefore, we see large tech companies like Accenture acquiring content companies. Big ad firms like WPP, Omnicom or a Publicis are acquiring tech companies to help better their offerings. So, clients will work with multiple partners," says Varma.

The polyamoryfication of adland is well underway. But, as Varma points out, the real challenge now is to drive integration while leveraging the benefit of specialisation.

First Published on May 10, 2023 7:56 AM
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