Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL/123RF/KARANDAEV
Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL/123RF/KARANDAEV

Advertising and marketing agencies have had a torrid 2020. The cruel domino impact of Covid-19 was felt in the earliest days of the economic shutdown. An immediate drop in consumer confidence led to a drop in sales, which in turn forced brands to slow or halt their communication, which led to smaller agencies closing or shedding staff and the more resilient ones having to dig deep into their reserves.

There is nothing to suggest the bloodletting is over, and brands will remain jittery about spending and will demand from their agency partners more output accountability and justification than they have ever had to give.

It’s the agency that can do this with precision, transparency and data-driven solutions that will succeed in the new environment. And they have a fight on their hands. One that was already shaping up before the world got sick.

The big global business consultancies saw a gap years ago to move into the space occupied by the brand communications industry. Their argument was simple. For too long many brands had been bemoaning strategic weakness in the industry and an inability to solve problems up and down the value chain.

That, however, was the core offering from these hot-desking, high-charging behemoths, which thought upskilling in the campaign and communications space surely wasn’t difficult? It wasn’t. And in recent years a skills and acquisition raid has been happening to the point where intense competition has moved to open warfare as agencies and  consultancies compete aggressively for accounts.

In fairness to the ad community, many big shops have upped their game, and choice for a client needing big business solutions backed by creative thinking is much harder, with the pendulum at times swinging back to ad land. This new battle for business is the theme for the 2020 edition of the FM’s AdFocus as both sides of the equation make their case.

Jeremy Maggs

 

Click below to page through the full edition of AdFocus 2020 (zoom in or switch to full screen for ease of reading):

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