Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Don't worry about strategy. Organic'll do it.

I guess a few eyebrows have been raised by Organic's new strategic consulting practice, since, as the lead to Ad Age's story says, "Omnicom Group's Organic wants to work with clients of WPP, Havas, Publicis and others." There's nothing unusual about clients working with agencies from multiple holding companies, of course, but what makes this different—if not entirely new—is that Organic is proposing to sit between clients and the agencies who actually execute the campaigns. It's not as though Organic is working on Tide, while another agency works on Pampers. There are probably agencies out there who see this new unit as so much dot-com hubris, but what I've always enjoyed about interactive shops is their disdain for the ad industry's tried-and-true practices. As some of you know, I spent 2000 as the head of communications at Organic, and became deeply immersed in Organic's insistence that it was more akin to the McKinseys and Bains of the world than to, say, BBDO. But it wasn't just Organic that was doing this—it was the whole interactive agency category, and, having been in and around traditional agencies for years who tried, desperately, to describe themselves as partners to their clients, it was enjoyable to see a bunch of companies who were truly trying to position themselves as such. Were these attempts always credible? No. And will this one be? Not necessarily. But where Organic may be onto something is that digital shops are still way smarter than most agencies and clients about interactive. The problem with traditional agencies trying to say the same thing is that they are no more experts than their clients are when it comes to off-line marketing. But as Organic's strategy consulting initiative goes forward, you can expect a lot of resistance from the agencies to which they hand the strategy down. It may not make a whole lot of sense, but if there's anything agencies are good at, it's expending endless time and energy on defending their turf.

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