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  • Lou Killeffer

For Whom the Bell Tolls?

The handwringing over the death of the advertising agency isn’t new, it’s been trending now for years. Ken Auletta’s most recent book, Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else) speaks eloquently to the issues involved, most particularly in Chapter 1, “The Perfect Storm”, and Chapter 3, “Goodbye, Don Draper”. Goodbye, indeed, as the issues involved have all sprouted precisely where they were planted - in the fields of efficiency, transparency, speed, and trust.

While these issues are real, I don’t fashion myself a modern-day Jeremiah as I’ve always known that trends come and go, that there’s a pendulum in play in human and organizational, behavior. (Not to mention the continuing power of follow the leader across marketing in general and marketing executives in particular.) No, I’ve always thought that at some point the trend away from the advertising agency will reverse itself and return – if not to the point of origin then somewhere closer to the mean. Well, seems we haven’t seen the apex of the arc yet. In fact, if anything, pressure is accelerating away from the agency model and picking up speed.

This week, the one hundred and nine-year-old Association of National Advertisers, whose 1,100 members' 25,000 brands spend $400BN on marketing each year, will host its first ever In-House Agency Conference in Orlando.

This follows close on the heels of the ANA’s October, 2018 Study, “The Continued Rise of the In-House Agency”, which declared the substantial growth in the number of in-house agencies, confirming more than two-thirds of marketers now have an in-house agency, compared to less than half ten years ago. The study further announced that these in-house agencies have grown substantially in scope, far beyond their origins in “fast and cheap”, to assume increasing significance across traditional agency specialties in strategy, creative, and media.

Unsurprisingly, the Conference is completely sold out. You can register to live stream the content here. And if like me you’ve no time and you have to pick and choose, mark 8:30am Friday on your calendar, when Leland Maschmeyer, CCO, Chobani will present “The Reimagination of Chobani’s Creativity”.

Leland’s a gifted strategic thinker, an accomplished designer, and a remarkably entrepreneurial executive. Chobani hired him in 2016 to build an internal creative capability completely from scratch. What began as an effort to bring campaign creativity in-house quickly grew into the re-imagination of a whole lot more. The result is Chobani’s “Brand Development” division: a model of modern demand creation for a young company, disrupting Big Food, with innovative products and the cultural impact of a brand that truly matters.

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