This essay was a funny one that caused quite a few problems for the delegates. The question centered around whether agencies had lost their influence at board level in the last 30 years and what they should do to get it back. Plenty of discussion was had as to the meaning of the word “agencies” here. 80% of the course intake was media whilst the final 20 was split between creative and digital! We all implicitly understood that the use of the word “agency” in the title referred primarily to creative/ad agencies and for many this is when the penny dropped about the course.
So what to do? With such a sweeping statement it required a punchy response, which essentially boils down to “yep creative agencies may have lost C-suite influence but actually media agencies have increased theirs”. This shifting of power from creative to media is something that is very much on the industry agenda at the moment. i detail many of the reasons why in the essay but my thinking has developed further and i hope to explore this next week.
My new viewpoint is that the balance has shifted to one of short term and long term. The digital performance landscape has been “won” by the media agency, there is no way that this will be relinquished and this very much is about short term sales and conversions (don’t let anyone tell you different) and campaign level thinking. The longer term is owned by creative agencies, they provide the strategic direction over longer term periods setting out the tone of voice and how the brand actually behaves. i’m sure those who work within media agencies will challenge this assertion (we do do “body language” after all but is acting like a leader or a luxury brand really as powerful as understanding and communicating somethign as fundamental as IKEAs Wonderful Everyday? Anyway i digress as this will be something i pursue in length at another time.
Why media-comms agencies already hold the keys to influence in the boardroom final
Last year i graduated from the IPA excellence diploma with a 2:1. As part of the course they ask you to write a final essay detailing “I believe…”. The best have recently been published in a book edited by Nick Kendall What is a 21st century brand. Unfortunately my essay didn’t get published so I’m going to publish it here. It starts with an explanation of the whole EQ thing and then proceeds to build out the brandEQ model, a guide to behaviour for the modern brand. The feedback was that although backed by the broadest amount of reading, research and proof and a very interesting hypothesis (the use of EQ as a guiding principle) the actual “execution” i.e. the implementation of the above wasn’t new enough to get top marks.
In hindsight it does lack a bit of pizzazz! and could probably have done with a little more controversy. Much of what i say is also now very much on the agenda of many brands and so the long-term application is limited. However as a one stop shop for brand learning and planning it’s still very much of use and part of its application was to provide a new standard approach with a different lens so not all bad.
Rather than copy the whole document into this blog format the link is below.
Does your brand have emotional intelligence blog version
The EQ Planner
So I’ve decided to take the plunge and begin writing about the things that interest me. Hopefully i won’t become part of the 90% as prescribed in Sturgeons Law and some people may even be interested enough to read and forward on because realistically that’s what I’d like. In my industry (advertising for those that care) nobody really believes those people who set up their blogs as personal journals – “somewhere to put my innermost thoughts”. Nope the real reason is the thought that others out there are reading. It’s ego, its fame, its social kudos, it’s all the things that the IPA (and many others) suggest is what we want to deliver for our clients and through them brands. Because even for the most selfless out there, there is a tiny part that screams “what about me”.
I note I’ve touched there on the concept of the personal brand, something that has a negative perception (especially in the media and politics). It’s a bit of a wanky concept but at its core is the belief that all brands are is a collection of external perceptions, they are what people think about the brand NOT what the brand thinks about itself. Fairly simple concept and its a guaranteed subject on which I’ll return in the future a multitude of times I’m sure but; it’s also a fact (yep it is!) that many marketeers and brand owners forget about, getting caught up in their own world and suffering from not actually engaging with those who consumer or could consume.
So Why The EQ planner? For those who may not be aware EQ stands for Emotional Intelligence, a concept that Daniel Goleman first wrote about in 1996. He has since gone on to win many awards & books since but essentially his thesis is softer skills are required for true success over and above more traditional measures such as IQ. It’s a concept that i wrote about for my IPA Excellence final essay (i will post it here soon) and the irony (i suppose) is that i have been told in the past that i lack a certain degree of Emotional Intelligence. It’s not quite a black and white as that (self-awareness is a key part of EQ, it’s the application of that to others i.e. Empathy, where i fall down) but its a nice handle, its something i believe in and its also something that i know i need to improve in.
And there you have the full story (and a bit of a bastardisation of english writing – starting a paragraph with And), a Protagonist (me) an Antagonist (a lack of EQ), a journey or quest (the search for EQ) and hopefully a transformation that will enable me to grow. This last sentence could seem a bit bizarre until i provide the context of a book i read recently “Into the woods” by John Yorke, which sets out the objective to discover the core story archetype that sits beneath ALL stories and explains it. Interesting book although for non-screen writers it can tail off a bit.
Think that’s a fair introduction and once i press publish i’ll just have to continue!