Agency network of the future takes shape

Since our focus is on PR agencies at the moment, due to our ongoing gathering of data for PRWeek's annual Agency Business Report, it's worth looking again at what the agency network of the future will look like.

Since our focus is on PR agencies at the moment, due to our ongoing gathering of data for PRWeek's annual Agency Business Report, it's worth looking again at what the agency network of the future will look like.

We invited Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth to our PRWeek NEXT Conference last November in the hope of discovering how a high-profile network boss intends to evolve his network into the convergent marketing services future. Either because he hasn't finalized plans, or he didn't want to give away competitive secrets, Roth was pretty neutral on the subject.

But this week's launch of a new division at rival network WPP provided one clue on the subject. Through its WPP Digital division, the Martin Sorrell-led group launched a global interactive marketing agency called Possible Worldwide, built from its digital agencies Schematic, Bridge Worldwide, BLUE, and Quasar.

The sound bites surrounding the launch are fairly predictable: “create meaningful and measurable interactive marketing for the world's largest brands,” and “groundbreaking creative solutions,” with buzzwords including “truly global,” “integration,” “data-driven,” and “analytics.”

The venture's global CEO Trevor Kaufman talks about the “shift from broadcasting messages to focusing on creating great branded experiences,” and responding to “marketers' simultaneous needs for new and disruptive strategies,” and “digitally led marketing ideas.”

This language will be very familiar to those in PR and communications, because they have been treading this path for some time already. Kaufman talks of being an “interactions,” not a “communications” agency. But modern communication is all about interaction, especially in social media. There's nothing new in this.

It's still an interesting development, especially the choice of the digital division rather than advertising to lead Possible Worldwide. And it's a clue to where WPP sees future growth.

It's another sign that “traditional” advertising and digital agencies have decided they need to embrace PR skills if they are to migrate their services, and by extension the network's services, into the modern marketing and business consulting environment.

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