Agency Darwinism: Will Covid-19 force the agency world to drag itself into the future?

The Drum 07 Sep 2020 04:00
By Jessica Hodgson-07 September 2020 17:00pm

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Agency Darwinism: Will Covid-19 force the agency world to drag itself into the future?

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."

Charles Darwin

Us agency folk like to think of ourselves as forward-thinking, and we constantly extol the virtues of new technology to our clients. However, we are also an industry steeped in nostalgia, and many of us gaze back through rose-tinted glasses at the bygone eras of mythologised titans like Bernbach and Ogilvy.

Will Covid-19 prove to be the catalyst for positive evolution?

However, over the past few months, we have all been thrown into a new norm and have had to get to grips with it at lightning speed. As a result, many have fully embraced the new methods intrinsic to working from home and this enforced period of remote working has proved to be a surprisingly successful launch pad for a new working model for many businesses, with agencies being no exception.

With less face-to-face time available with clients, agencies may move towards regional, or even offshore, options. More flexible and remote working, could provide the catalyst that has been needed to accelerate the industry’s inclusiveness. Many agencies will not solely consider a London based work-force but employ those from various geographical locations, and also different lifestyles than before. It could be more realistic for working parents or those with disabilities that are unable to travel, for example to re-enter the job market and work either full or part time from home.

Creativity and flexibility in our approach

The daily grind of commuting and rigid work schedules can strip creative headspace for some. This new norm may lead to not only greater creativity in our actual work, but also creativity around how we work; exploring new approaches and ways of working which may lead to even better output. We have the freedom to figure out what works for our businesses to get to where we want to be, without restriction. Lockdown has forced agencies to introduce huge operational shifts across strategies, lines of communication, approach, and implementation, and in some cases look at the business as a whole - flexing or scaling back accordingly.

Product offering

At the start of the pandemic we spoke to many of our clients about tech innovation to support their businesses as they adapted to consumers new priorities, and quickly developed a proposition with our voice agency Rabbit & Pork for clients to use to support their call centres, automating responses to simple questions, enabling customer support staff to focus on more complex queries.

Margins and efficiency

Those agencies best positioned to survive (and thrive) are those nimble enough to flex their operating models to meet the rapidly changing needs of clients and revised focus. Due to our strong partnerships with our clients we have been able to provide flexible commercial arrangements to support our clients through difficult periods of the pandemic, ensuring continuity of agency service.

There will still be requirements for collaborative in-person working, however a huge amount can be completed with a well planned out virtual team meeting and we’re encouraging our staff to think ahead of meetings, as well as during to ensure proactive outcomes.

Jessica Hodgson, group client services director, TIPi Group

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