Is a Bigger Agency a Better Agency?

News of the Omnicom-Publicis rumor got me to thinking of my big-agency days.  I spent many years as Creative Director of a large international agency and oh, it did have its perks.  There were enormous budgets for TV commercials.  And fancy hotels.  And limousines.  There were nice benefit packages and pension plans.  And there were secretaries and interns to take care of your smallest need.  But today, I can’t help but thinking about the clients who paid for all of that.  Did any of that really benefit the client?

Now the clients didn’t necessarily have all of those people working on their business.  Most had one assigned creative team, one account executive (two for a large account), one media buyer.  All of the rest of the employees were simply to keep things organized in such a vast environment.  Or they were there to work on other pieces of business.

At the time, my focus was simply to create great campaigns.  I knew little about a client’s budget, or their profitability, or the management team they had to answer to.  Quite frankly, in an environment like that, most agency people don’t know what’s going on beyond their cubicle.  And once again, I can’t help but thinking about the clients.  Did that benefit them?  I doubt it.

I think of how many great ideas we’ve had at our little agency with creative and media working hand in hand.  Or how many times we’ve figured out how to get great results for less money.  Or even how, as a creative person, I spend time thinking about how to improve or track a client’s results.  And we think of these things from the start, before we write the first word of an ad.

I realize how little I really knew when I left there.  How little I knew about how newspapers were printed.  Or how media was bought.  Or more important, how difficult a job it was to be a Marketing Director on the client side.

So now a giant agency is going to be a bigger giant.  I don’t know know how the clients will benefit from that business model.  But each and every day, I see how our clients benefit from ours.