Returning to the core competences

We are noticing that the classic advertising agencies are positioning themselves more and more in the event market and offering live communication – a trend which the pure event agencies naturally criticise. On the other hand, event agencies are offering integrated campaigns with increasing frequency, which also include classic instruments such as PR and advertisement.

Where do you think this development is coming from?

This topic is not new. It can be demonstrated by several examples: such as BBDO Live, developed by Bob Bomliz, or fischerAppelt live marketing. There have also already been event initiatives of networks in Germany such as Grey Live or McCann Momentum which, however, are no longer active on the market. This reasoning of the classic agencies to not merely sell advertisements and TV spots, but rather to expand into live communication and live experience has been around for a long time already. These pursuits are ultimately limited to individual short-term campaigns and projects – I have discovered this pattern in my research and discussions with individual GWA members. Although many boast on their websites that they (also) offer such events services, only a very few provide concrete cases and actual evidence.

I repeatedly noticed this the other way around as well – some of my event colleagues believe they could offer other communication disciplines in addition or in parallel. I personally view this with scepticism. When an event agency believes it needs to offer a bit of social media, standardised apps, some PR or whatever else only because the customer requests that at the moment, the agency management should give serious thought to collaborating with a specialist instead of doing the work themselves. Because the problem with a service is: When it doesn't deliver on its promises, the customer switches to another agency because they obtain better service or 100% quality. Mediocrity is deadly in the service industry – and this often occurs very quickly with many low-quality individual services. The credibility of the entire agency brand is damaged when this occurs. Event agencies would be better off concentrating on how to better present their actual USP and how to position their creative ideas even better with live experiences for the customer on the market. I believe that this is the only way to increase our esteem in the communication market.

How does the GWA view this: Are the agency profiles, both classic and event, increasingly dissolving as they become all-round agencies? Or will there soon be just a large number of specialists who work together in a network?

It goes without saying that there will always be generalists. I am noticing more and more often, however, that the tendency is to specialise. Why? Specialised agencies can often perform their small range of services really well. They focus on them, continuously develop their skills and build up additional expertise in their special area. This has gone so far in the digital sector that specialised agencies have evolved solely into providers of E-Commerce, mobile, social media or apps. This is due to the increasing demands of companies and brands, which find it difficult when individual means of communication remain at the "regional league level". Brands can only be successful if they are perfectly positioned in all aspects of communicative perception. This requires the best agencies for every single means of communication.

It is certainly important to offer specialized skills at the professional level. But how is that all coordinated? Not every customer would like to deal with 20 different special service providers. There are those who prefer everything from a single source. And doesn't the risk exists that the brand image will be spoiled when too many "cooks" are involved?

Just the opposite is true: I am not aware of any leading brands which would have successfully left their complete marketing to someone else. For me, the overall responsibility of the brand management and coordination of the individual means of communication remains with the company. This is, of course, much more complex and expensive today than ever before. The job description for the customer, however, is to manage everything, to direct the specialists in terms of the brand communication, and thus to merge integrated single actions into one campaign at a very high level. 
An example of professional coordination is as follows: A German automotive manufacturer invites all of the service providers who perform significant work for the brand to an annual agency day. All of the participants can get to know each other better and share ideas. This results in highly diverse impulses and increases mutual understanding. The company is thus able in this way to actively promote the coordination of these communication service providers.
My recommendation for brand responsibility in the company: Work with as many specialists as possible to achieve great success overall.

Read the entire interview with Göran Göhring by Jessica Hartmann in the current printed edition of EVENT PARTNER (03.16).