Call for integrated agencies to be recognised alongside specialists
Ahead of the publication of AdReview 2012, The Jupiter Drawing Room founder and group chairman, Graham Warsop, last month issued an open letter to Tony Koenderman urging him to review his approach to listing and awarding Specialist Disciplines.
Historically, FinWeek's AdReview has published Specialist tables listing the best Digital, Design, Sponsorship, Direct agencies, etc. Only specialist agencies dedicated to these disciplines have been featured in the tables and been eligible to be recognised for outstanding achievement in these areas.
"Currently, only specialist Digital agencies are listed in the Digital agency tables and eligible to win Digital Agency of The Year. So no matter how good an integrated agency performs in this space it can never gain recognition for the strength of its Digital offering. The same is true of Design and other disciplines," says Warsop.
"This may distort the reality of where the best work in a specialist discipline is being created; thus undermining AdReview's attempt to publish a guide for marketers looking for hot beds of exceptional talent in specific communications fields.
"AdReview has become a valuable reference guide for clients in South Africa, and if they are looking for outstanding Digital or Design, a table that fails to list the most accomplished Digital or Design talent just because it resides in an ad agency that provides other offerings too, is unfortunate.
"After all, it wouldn't make a lot of sense to rank the best mobile phone manufacturers, but exclude Apple because it also makes computers."
Jupiter's competitors in the integrated agency space have tended to open specialist divisions to handle specialist disciplines, The Jupiter Drawing Room has eschewed this approach, concentrating on the arguably more challenging task of providing a range of world class best of breed specialist disciplines from under one roof.
"Nirvana for a client must be to know there is a place where best of breed communications across a range of disciplines are being seamlessly integrated from under one roof, not least because it avoids the 'protecting one's turf' and 'competing for budget' scenarios that can arise when different divisions compete with each other, often to the detriment of the best interests of the client.
"Some have used the argument that integrating a number of disciplines in one agency makes the agency a Jack of all trades and master of none. At Jupiter we reject that assumption. We wish to develop, under one roof, a range of integrated best of breed disciplines that become the benchmark for the industry. That is the Holy Grail."
Surely it's a big ask, for a 'general' or 'integrated' agency to be able to perform to the standard of a top specialist agency in a particular field?
Warsop cites The Jupiter Drawing Room (Cape Town)'s performance in the Design field. Last year it was ranked the second best performing agency in the world at America's prestigious One Show Design awards and locally was the best performing Design agency at Loeries. Yet it is currently ineligible to appear in AdReview's table of Design agencies and ineligible for a Design Agency of The Year ranking because it's an integrated agency, not a specialist Design agency.
"If the specialist discipline is housed outside an integrated agency it's eligible, but if it's housed within an integrated agency, it's not. It seems to be a somewhat artificial distinction.
"Outstanding holistic communication actually requires the integration of a number of specialist disciplines, that's why it's called integration.
"To move with the times everything about our business must be open to constant reevaluation. Making the Digital, Design, Direct, Sponsorship and other categories eligible to all worthy industry players, not just those many fine companies that specialise in a particular discipline, would be a step forward.
"In theory, it should be possible for an integrated agency to be voted Digital, Design and Advertising Agency of The Year in the same Year. That's certainly one of our goals for The Jupiter Drawing Room."
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