Post Of The Month - August 2011 - The Winner
At The Edges

Google #Firestarters 3: The New Operating System For Agencies


You'll know by now that I'm working with Google to curate a series of events designed to facilitate some challenging thinking and debate around some of the bigger issues facing planners today. Our first two events, on Agile Planning, and Design Thinking in Planning, have both created a large amount of good buzz and discussion around their respective topics.

But there's been one theme that has arisen at both debates (less of an elephant in the room and more of a Rhinocerous we can all see sat in the middle): legacy structures, processes and thinking. So, with our next event, we're tackling that head-on, and asking the question: what might the operating system for the agency of the future look like?

There has never been more debate around the future for agencies, but with the challenges of a networked world and all that brings with it in terms of accelerating change, the explosion in data, real-time, new forms of story-telling, the question remains a highly pertinent one. A more meaningful relationship between advertising and technology seems to be finally emerging, reflected perhaps in the fact that this years Cannes Cyber Lions seemed to be more about experiences than messaging. 

And there's been a fascinating debate going on just recently around agencies making stuff, and whether if this is indicative of the future, it is one that they are really equipped for. Tim Malbon posted a good response to the question posed by Murat Mutlu in the post that just won the Post Of The Month vote (concerning whether the next Instagram, Angry Birds (et al) could be born within an agency), suggesting that whilst agencies should undoubtedly be experimenting with the internet, is it really realistic to be expecting them to be behind the next big consumer-facing platform when what's behind this shift is potentially bigger than just agencies and brands. As part of that post he linked to Heidi Hackemer talking about people taking on an experiential shift to drive real empathy and change. 

And my latest column for New Media Age (sub required I'm afraid) speculated that, as products and services become ever more digitised, and messaging becomes experiences, perhaps the one group of people best positioned to lead agencies into a new relationship with clients are those that can help businesses find the right problem to solve, truly understand customer need and work back: agency planners.

So, we are not short of things to talk about. To give their vision, and to provide a starting point for the debate, we have three of the smartest people in advertising: Mel Exon from BBHLabs, Martin Bailie from GlueIsobar, and James Caig from MediaedgeCIA. We have here perspectives from a creative agency, a digital agency, and a media agency, but having begun with a thought that this would be an interesting place to start, I realise now that that thought is irrelevant. Good ideas come from anywhere, the lines between different agencies in the advertising process are rapidly blurring, and no one part of the mix can logically provide a more insightful perspective than the others. So, it is more relevant that we have three visions from three brilliant advertising and media practitioners, followed by one debate.

The event will be held on 27th Sept at Google's shiny new HQ in London and is strictly invite only (sadly we're limited on space so have to be realistic). But as before, I have a few guest passes to give away, first come first served, to readers of this blog. If you'd like one, please do drop me a line (please note I won't be able to  respond to everyone but will notify the successful applicants).

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