Is consolidation the coming thing?

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Jay Carter
SVP, director of strategic services, AbelsonTaylor

As pharmaceutical companies seek to get more promotional bang for their buck, an obvious strategy is agency or network consolidation. It's a premise as old as Adam Smith: You give the agency more business, they give you a better price.

Certainly media planning and placement is potentially a part of this mix. However, because the media planning and placement business is one where consolidation might also be accomplished across clients (CMI's long-standing strategy is salient here), and because DTC media buying is so important to large decisions, I don't believe that the decision is a “slam-dunk.” While it's certainly possible that a large agency/network consolidation will include media duties, it is far from a certainty, or even a trend.

Richard Marshall
EVP, H4B Chelsea

Consolidation of AORs is the future. Depth of brand knowledge and strategy are driving this trend.  Consolidation allows for a core team of senior account, creative and strategic players to be dedicated to a piece of business.  If the business is parsed out to multiple agencies, each scope will be too small to support this core team.

Clients also want to improve workflow efficiencies.  One consolidated agency streamlines onboarding, MLRC reviews, creative development and budget maintenance.

Finally, we are in a multichannel world and expect to see the re-integration of creative and media so clients can match messages and channels for maximum impact and efficiency. An all-in-one AOR delivers cost savings and communication impact versus a portfolio of agencies.

Jay Bigelow
President and CEO, MicroMass Communications

Yes, we should expect more consolidation. Too many brands have “salami sliced” their marketing assignments into small one-off tactics. Brands need to deliver clear and compelling messages to multiple constituencies, across multiple channels to build and sustain meaningful relationships that address brand objectives. Most biopharma brand teams are not equipped to handle the coordination and synchronization of this effort. Purpose-built agencies (whether standalone shops or virtual profit-center agencies cobbled together from parts of a network) that offer a single view of the customer and have the skills (people, process and technology) and experience to deliver integrated communication across multiple channels are the solution.

Eileen Zaccaro
VP, media director, Draftfcb Healthcare

Yes.  Over the past several years, we have been chosen to be part of these consolidations with a number of our clients.  We find that clients are better understanding the value of these consolidations (be it holding company or agency network).  There are two immediate benefits to these consolidations:  effectiveness—from the brand strategy, integration and consistency of perspective—and financial efficiency.

Some of our consolidation models have been in place for many years.  The stellar evaluations and positive “buzz” are probably what's driving many more companies to explore the benefit of consolidation.

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