Why Omnicom’s ‘New Agency’ Vision For McDonalds Is Bad For Almost Everyone Else
Jan 10, 2017
Omnicom wins McDonalds
About a month and a half ago, Omnicom won the four-month long McDonalds account review, besting the other two network agency monoliths, Publicis and WPP. The competition was fierce.
In the end, McDonalds settled on Omnicom for one reason: they were willing to do something radically different.
Omnicom Builds The Big Brand Future
“Omnicom has built a new agency of the future for us.” That’s how McDonalds U.S. CMO Deborah Wahl described Omnicom’s winning idea in an interview with Ad Age. “This agency of the future…allows us to be customer obsessed at a whole new level in everything that we do.” Omnicom plans to create a completely new agency, solely for the purpose of servicing McDonald’s needs.
And those needs are vast. There’s a lot about Omnicom’s idea that I like. It certainly will help break up silos and unify the customer experience. Most likely, it will also help the agency be more agile, flexible and adapt to changes in the market.
WPP and Publics Have Launched Rival Solutions
It’s not just Omnicom or myself who thinks that way, either.
WPP and Publicis are also forging new structures to combat inefficient internal silos. WPP announced a couple of years ago that they’re restructuring their account management into global big brand client teams. Publicis just this year created ‘revolutionary’ single-country P&Ls.
They’re all attempting to solve marketing’s biggest problem: that siloed agencies are creating a fragmented customer experience and diminishing the ROI of brands’ marketing dollars. It’s great news for the network agencies’ marquee clients, but, to me, it sparks a bigger and more important question.
What happens to the rest of Publics, Omnicom and WPP’s clients?
Cohesive Service only for the top 1%
Omnicom has yet to make any announcements about who will run this ‘agency of the future’, but if the review process is any indicator, top talent from the agencies in the network will be consolidated to work for McDonalds.
“The best and the brightest talent across multiple Omnicom agencies came together over the last four months to create, operationalize and deliver on that brief. The result is a customized agency built with intelligence at the core, to fuel brilliant creative work, that’s delivered at the speed of the marketplace,” said DDB’s North American CEO (and pitch lead) Wendy Clark.
If this trend takes off, the big networks will continue to suck talent out of their individual agencies and pool it around a select few blue chip clients. The rest of their clients will likely be left with an even less focused, less talented, siloed mess.
Which doesn’t help Fortune 1000, 2000 and all of the other companies who face the same problems. Unfortunately, without the serious headline earning firepower that attracts the attention of the big networks, it looks like they’re going to be stuck with more of the same.
The good news is, small and midsize agencies have already been experimenting with the agency model and finding unique ways to provide flexibility. The same experimentation, hunger for agility and commitment to relationships that has historically defined smaller, independent agencies, is going to be what opens up the possibility for cohesive service for small and mid sized brands.
Actually, that’s why marketers have always prized smaller shops.
“We have worked with agencies of all sizes and what we have found is that smaller agencies tend to become part of your marketing team -- they get ingrained in your company's DNA,” said Abby Lee, VP of marketing at RE/MAX.
Building a Unified Solution
With more of the same looming on the network agency horizon, CMO’s and brand managers have to be willing to see small and mid sized agencies as more than just narrowly focused specialists. They need a bona fide Unified Marketing solution to exist outside of the network agencies.
That’s the vision I’m working towards with the launch of unified.agency. We’ve collected the right individual units with the vertical expertise to deliver Unified Marketing - unified strategies and tactical executions – across the entire customer journey.
To deliver Unified Marketing to clients, we’ve created a new breed of account managers that represent all teams. They are multi-disciplinary strategists who sit at the head of every account to unite channels and guide brands through the entire customer experience. They stand on the front lines in the fight against silo-ed inefficiency.
To overcome the systemic marketing problems facing them, mid-sized brands are going to have to challenge their ideas of what sized agency can provide holistic solutions. Because better options are out there, just not where you might always think to look for them.