The Case For The Creative Agency

It’s interesting how nearly all management consultancies now have either “digital studios” or have acquired experience & service design firms; given that nobody has every really understood what consultancies do, and that many former consultants are quick to ridicule the out-of-the-box PowerPoint documents oriented around the same ol’ centers-of-excellence models peddled to confused C-suites everywhere, they must realize that in an era where you can more easily track the efficacy of a given investment, you’re probably better of making something than selling really expensive, smart-sounding hot air.

Of course, that’s not to say that what agencies produce is inherently valuable. Like, I don’t see how what agencies produce is necessary. What does that even mean? It just sounds like a generic, feel-good platitude. If a business can sell stuff through an efficient media buy & creative determined by rigorously tested visual + headline, and delivered via a brutally sharpened targeting strategy afforded by the increasingly creepy but virtually unstoppable data-collection of a few enormous tech companies…they’ll do it. Not that the big, glossy brand advertising isn’t appreciated. Ad tech product managers are more than happy to take that money.

Looking at the ten most valuable companies, maybe one has a history of running “award winning ads” and these days, that company isn’t running the most bombastic stuff. They, and most of the rest, however, have pretty amazing experience & product design, typically done internally. And the creativity isn’t limited to people who make packages, posters, social media posts, ads, and whatever else. It’s concertedly imbued into every position at every level. Having worked at agencies for years, I thought they were the apex of creativity — until I joined a large cloud-computing organization and found that there was another level of innovative thinking I couldn’t have even comprehended previously.

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