Thinking outside the channel

We’ve recently been involved in a lot of work across the entire building (with BBDO, Proximity and NetX all involved), that have been great ideas for our clients that aren’t just about focusing on specific or traditional channels. The result is great ideas for our clients that weren’t born out of channel-driven thinking, but rather a great solution that works in whatever channels we need it to.

So this got us thinking, how relevant is the channel model of thinking in an effectively integrated agency (or group of agencies)?

Going back to basics first. Why do brands need agencies? I’m sure Bill Bernbach or David Ogilvie have some deep and insightful answer to this question, but at a basic level brands need agencies because:

  • We are experts in communicating clearly with consumers
  • They are experts at creating products.

This was a simple concept to grasp in the past. There was a clear delineation between the brand creating a product, and that product being marketed to the consumer. Advertising often bent the truth; ads appeared mostly in broadcast media; finite broadcast space meant there were a small number of brands that could be successful and recognisable globally; and the consumer had no way to talk back. It was a one-way street, one that we’ve now obviously done a sharp left from, to enter a multi-lane freeway.

We need to rethink why a brand needs an advertising agency, and then we can start talking about integration and better process. The result of this, is that channels are no longer as relevant.

Advertising has evolved beyond communicating product benefits to consumers in clever and memorable ways. We have become the custodians of the brands. And if we want to survive, we need to actually have the capabilities in place to achieve this. A brand extends out through myriad ways to reach the consumer. We used to work only in the channels of broadcast, DM, outdoor, print and in-store, in relatively short lived campaigns. If we want to become custodians of the brand we need to have a long-term brand strategy, and then take ownership of shaping that brand, particularly in the digital space.

Once we move beyond the campaign and channel mentality we can be going out and listening to consumers, responding to them, and working with our clients to actually respond to consumers and grow amazing brands. That does, admittedly, sound like marketing rhetoric, but the truth is that it is now possible for any brand to become amazing. Where before broadcast channels limited ‘amazing’ brands to the Marlboros, Cokes, Fords and Nikes, the digital world now means any brand can become a legend in their own market.

2 Responses to “Thinking outside the channel”


  1. 1 Alexander6 Trackback on Jul 16th, 2011 at 1:47 pm
  2. 2 Alexander7 Trackback on Jul 18th, 2011 at 5:26 am

Leave a Reply