I was delighted to see Renault bringing together their creative and media agencies at the same time as admitting that they continue to need agency resources.
So rumours of the creative and media agencies’ demise are premature. In my 30-plus-year agency career I’ve worked within a number of different agency/client models including for BT, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and The National Lottery. I think I’ve spotted some characteristics that will ensure that Renault, OMD and Publicis can make their partnership work.
And I chose that word partnership carefully, because in short it will be the single most important ingredient for success. The personal chemistry of the leaders of the Omnicom and Publicis teams will be massively important, headed by the charisma and leadership skills of the yet to be named Renault Chief Operating Officer. I recall in one of my client/agency partnerships our marketing client leader suggested we shared our Myers Briggs personality profiles – warts and all. (That client moved on to become the CEO of a bank, so it certainly didn’t hold him back.)
Because the old demarcation lines in our industry have become blurred, that client leadership should start with a clear and simple definition of who does what. And I mean something more human than a ten-page scope of work. That will avoid any future turf wars.
Like any effective organisation, having a common purpose is hugely important, and in this situation it starts with a strong and well-understood brand.
Renault has already agreed that shared KPIs are vital. In my experience they should be both commercial and personal; understanding my colleagues’ personal objectives to maintain their career progression and remuneration helped me manage and be managed much more effectively.
I’ve also found that merging the creative and media insight functions – including data planning – has huge benefits. In the current media versus creative agency siloed approach, learning and insight can too often be equally isolated.
Most importantly new, joined-up processes will bring better work. And I do hope that’s one of the main three-way shared KPIs they have identified, and that they’ve got beyond simply driving down costs. My colleague Paul Jacobs has recently written about the broader benefits of bringing media and creative closer together, and I agree with his conclusion that the biggest benefit is going to be improved creativity. Key to this will be an approach where creative thinking drives media thinking which drives creative thinking: an almost virtuous circle of integrated innovation, all insight and data-driven, and constantly optimised.
The one cloud blotting this sunny new horizon is the suggestion that there will not be a shared P&L. On one level this is not surprising considering the media and creative teams come from competing holding companies. Innovative and transparent outcomes-based remuneration and payment by results may help, but I do hope they can find ways to overcome this and even consider some kind of formal joint venture with shared risk and reward across all three parties. Best of luck OMD Publicis Renault. I look forward to seeing some great work.