Towards the end of 2023 I started to reflect on the year that had been. Over and above the archetypical inward reflection, the fact that I changed roles within the agency necessitated something a little broader.
So, I considered the current state of the industry and what may come in the year ahead. Our industry certainly embodies the notion that ‘the only constant is change’ and yet, some fundamental tenets of our business have remained consistent for decades.
One such fundamental has been the core value proposition of agencies – the idea that brands’ commercial problems can be addressed through creative solutions. The types of problems, the process to solving them, and the very creative solutions themselves have most definitely evolved with the times – and in many ways so have agencies.
Are we limiting ourselves?
So, for the year ahead, I attempt to ask the question: are we limiting ourselves in both ‘how’ we address problems as well as ‘what’ solutions we offer brands as a result?
When it comes to the ‘how’, the standard agency process remains (mostly) consistent across organisations with minute deviation to the prevailing logic. Brands seek out agency; brands share a brief; strategy digests and inputs into creative; approach is created; presentation back to brand; creative goes into production; work goes live; and months later a report is compiled to measure performance.
And the process repeats and continues.
One of the most prevailing gaps (or perhaps, opportunities) is how the agency-driven process is very isolated from the client. Indeed, many could/would argue that this protects the ‘magic’ behind the work.
However, having clients integrated throughout the entire process gives much more than it takes away. Context and insights can be shared more efficiently. Problems can be addressed more seamlessly. Reviews happening much earlier and faster. Not to mention the benefits to the overall relationship.
Then there is the matter of ‘what’ to do, which too has by and large remained the same. When an agency receives a brief, there is a very defined framework of how to create solutions – and the majority are usually a television commercial, billboard, radio spot or social ads.
It is not to say that having a clear set of outputs is a bad thing either – quite the contrary. Expectations are much clearer and less abstract between both clients and agencies, overall having a massive difference.
Away from the ad toolbox
But the reality is that creativity also needs to live outside of the confines of advertising, every once in a while challenging the very idea of ‘big ideas’ and how they come to life. Commercial problems are never limited to one area, and the logic should apply to creative solutions as well.
Expanding away from the toolbox of ads – what else can we be making that has a more long-term brand-building focus?
As I look ahead into 2024, I am confident that I’ll continue to do many things I’ve done before time and time again. But what really and truly excites me is starting to question more and attempting new things for the very first time.
I’m optimistic in my approach to ‘fail forward and figure it out’, and hopefully along the way, I’ll learn a thing or two.
Jordan Major is strategy lead for culture and innovation at RAPT Creative. He believes in the power of collaborating with culture to connect brands to their customers. In his role at RAPT Creative he works alongside the creative studio to ensure all work is informed by insights and data to ensure that the work is executed holistically in unique territories and across the relevant channels. His Twitter handle is //twitter.com/JordanMajor.