Most successful ad agencies have been built around a combination of the two: relationships and ideas. The former yields the kind of partnership that lets a brand team totally immerse itself in a client’s business, work as a partner rather than a supplier and take a vested interest in the success of the business.
That’s not to say that relationships are more important than ideas. After all, it’s the latter that goes into the market, attracting attention, generating buzz, driving results. No one gets famous from a relationship; it’s the ideas that make you immortal.
But you could argue that relationships contribute to great ideas in a big way. A strong relationship results in trust, which invites braver thinking. It yields a partnership that encourages client and agency to work through challenges and problems together. And it motivates creative teams to work even harder than they already do. We all want to please a client who appreciates what we do for them.
But if Will Burns, the founder of Ideasicle, is right, the relationship side of things just might be diminishing in value. In Will’s words, many clients care less about relationships and more about getting an idea faster, cheaper and more efficiently. He should know, having held senior account and new business roles at agencies that include Wieden, Goodby, Arnold and Mullen.
In response to that “trend,” Will created Ideasicle, an expert-sourcing agency. Similar to the crowdsourcing model of Victors & Spoils, which also posts briefs to a vetted community of creatives, Ideasicle calls on an even smaller stable of hand-picked, experienced, award-winning creatives who have joined as “experts.” All of them have worked with Will in one of his previous positions, so he has a good sense of how to match them with assignments.
When Ideasicle secures an assignment – sometimes from an ad agency needing to augment and internal effort, but more often from a brand advertiser looking for fast, affordable access to top talent – it posts the news to members of the Ideasicle community. Those who are available agree to work on short notice as a swat team. They collaborate with each other online — conceiving ideas, revising them, making each other’s concepts better – but stay invisible and anonymous to clients. Hired guns, they work for the joy of creating and the guaranteed payday.
Knowing my interest in crowdsourcing and new models, Will showed me a quick peek behind the curtain. The talent is impressive. And despite their anonymity, more and more clients are embracing the model, caring not who works on their business but rather what comes out of the process.
Like Victors & Spoils, which has generate impressive PR and clients – Harley Davidson, Levis’, Virgin America, General Mills, Discovery Channel – Ideasicle is challenging the traditional models as being inefficient and over-priced.
I’m not saying I agree totally with that sentiment. In a world where the only real trend that matters is hyper-connectivity, you could make an argument that brands need a deep relationship with an agency like the one I work for, where a dedicated hyper-bundled team can deliver creative, paid media, earned media, mobile and digital all working together to produce coherent brand experiences that consider everything from context to culture.
But it’s also likely that the new models, anxious to prove the maxim that abundance breaks more things than scarcity, are to be taken seriously. Perhaps we should embrace aspects of what they do ourselves, finding ways to source ideas from more people and places and deliver them even more quickly and efficiently.
What do you think?