As brand communications responsibilities shift from local markets to centralized hubs, what will happen to the smaller, local agencies, and what will regionalization mean in terms of preserving choice for Rx clients?

Matt Brown
General manager, ICC Lowe

An objective organizations had in creating their global networks was to create scale. However, in the digital world, scale is not only less important, it can sometimes threaten efficient workflow and creativity. Instagram boasts hundreds of millions of users, yet employs fewer than 50 people. A hybrid approach that creates both regional hubs and local offices in select key markets based on client needs allows the pursuit of quality over quantity.  The focus should be on capacity for ideation rather than execution. We avoid the term network, preferring instead—one agency, multiple offices. Most importantly, we are connected by people-centered core values. Localized agencies still have a role, provided they are selectively and objectively created for the advancement of the client brand, not the agency brand.

Matt Giegerich
Chairman & CEO, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide

There’s an old saying that every tub should stand on its own bottom—which applies to agencies as well as bath basins. In this new world of consolidation and reorganization, it’s critical that local agencies—both independents and network-owned—have enough local business to fuel their relevance to the global marketing community. Only a few agency offices are in a position to serve as global and/or regional hubs, because of their location and access to multinational, English-speaking talent. The good news is that there is plenty of health-oriented business out there. To drive marketing effectiveness and efficiency, instead of allowing independent choice of agencies in each market and discipline, multinational clients are choosing to work with qualified agency networks with strong global, regional and local standing.

Joe Kuchta
CEO, GA Communication Group

There is likely to always be a place for local agencies. Regardless of trends or strategic alignments the agencies or networks feel they need to make, it always comes down to the people—the team that a client trusts to understand their business and help move it forward. Clients get most distressed by the inability of agency network offices, large or small, to work together. In my experience, those people are the key, regardless of whether they are local or regional or even halfway around the world. The reason I believe the smaller agencies will always have value is the emphasis they put on the quality of the teams and the people they align with their clients vs. agency bureaucracy.  This simple notion somehow becomes less important the more the agency machine grows and expands.

Niki Crossley
Managing dir.—commercial, Halesway, an FCB Health Co.

We believe that local agencies will increasingly have a place as part of larger global networks. Their knowledge of the regulatory and commercial nuances of their home and regional markets is the optimal way to ensure global campaigns gain the best possible local traction.

This global/local model has many advantages for clients. Staying at the vanguard, particularly of the digital elements of the multichannel mix, can prove taxing for local agencies. But with the power of a global organization behind them, they can offer local clients the best of both worlds: advanced strategic, tactical and digital tools, delivered with local implementation in mind.

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