EDITORIAL: Agencies large and small seem to agree that collaboration holds the key to future success

BusinessWeek's profile of Ann Fudge stretched the point over the significance of her two-year break from the rat race before becoming chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam, Inc. Was it implying that her strategy is the result of a couple of years reading soft-focus books and cycling in Europe? Or was it saying that two years off gave her the inner resources to flout tradition and manage the organization her own way?

BusinessWeek's profile of Ann Fudge stretched the point over the significance of her two-year break from the rat race before becoming chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam, Inc. Was it implying that her strategy is the result of a couple of years reading soft-focus books and cycling in Europe? Or was it saying that two years off gave her the inner resources to flout tradition and manage the organization her own way?

Based on what I've been hearing recently, it sounds instead like she's been listening to clients. She believes that consumers of marketing services get the best ideas through collaboration across brands and disciplines.

Fudge is not alone. In the PR agency universe, the theme of collaboration is also gaining momentum, and not just for big holding company "best-of-class" reviews, but within single firms creating teams across offices in innovative ways. Clients want it, many say, and that's what is informing the strategy.

That topic will be explored further in the main feature of the Agency Business Report, which includes rankings and will be published on April 19. Firms that are talking about collaboration are the most conspicuously bullish on their prospects for this year. That's not just big agencies, but also smaller firms that are trying to sell solutions, and not just PR.

Maybe PR is better suited to this level of cooperation than other disciplines. But Fudge's profile warns us that the rest of the marketing world is catching on.

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