Strategy & Organization October 23, 2017
Surviving as an agency according to R/GA
The agency world is ruled by major consultants, in-house teams, and advertising giants that empower clients. During the Dmexco — the leading global digital marketing event — boasting more than 40,000 visitors, we listen to a talk by Bob Greenberg, founder and CEO of R/GA. The theme of his talk? ‘How to create the next Agency Model’.
Greenberg knows what he’s talking about, too. He has managed to stay alive in the marketing and advertising world for more than 41 years (!). In the meantime, R/GA provides employment to more than 2,000 people around the world, working on the cutting edge of technology, design, and marketing. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. Greenberg explains how he had to reinvent his company several times. For example, in the mid-nineties, which marked the switch from production agency to interactive agency. This was not easy for the employees because they had to step out of their comfort zones and learn new skills. However, it was necessary if they were to survive as an agency and stay ahead of the rest.
It is interesting to hear that Greenberg used to maintain a disruptive cycle of nine years, but in recent years, had to implement major innovations almost every year. Not because he prefers it this way, but because it simply corresponds to the speed at which one must operate nowadays. During his talk, he mentions several ways that R/GA tries to stay ahead of the game.
A special programme for start-ups with money. That sums up R/GA ventures. The programme puts them in contact with the talent and skills available at R/GA and they get access to the agency’s Fortune 500 clients. The objective? Helping the start-ups grow to a meaningful size. In the meantime, more than 70 ventures have been helped, with partners like Verizon and Snap Inc. A fine example is this smart ShotTracker & Keemotion case study.
While consultancies have declared the hunt on creative agencies, R/GA chooses the opposite path, as it already announced in the media earlier. R/GA distinguishes itself by concentrating on execution rather than PowerPoint slides. The agency says that its strong culture and ability to work in flexible teams sets it apart from the major management consultants. The ability to dare to take risks and grabbing opportunities that lead to innovation, without delay. This is not merely a great sales story; R/GA’s consultancy business grew by 50% in the past year under the internal motto ‘consultants that make’.
Everything is Connected
When it comes to staying ahead of other agencies, R/GA tries to differentiate itself through communication and design in particular. Away with the funny or tear-jerking 30-second commercials, but instead, a series of contact moments that convey the message. Greenberg uses ‘Nike on Demand’ as an example, where mobile technology, smart sports data and chat are used to help sportsmen and -women achieve their goals.
The infrastructure of the future
Bringing digital and physical together. It is the future and the reason Greenberg has created its own ‘Connected space’. The workplace of the future with innovative tools, design, furniture and infrastructure. Everything to help its employees work together better. The R/GA OS software, for keeping track of hours and budgets, is key in this regard and forms the backbone of project organisation. This enables the agency to operate as a single entity with a 24/7 workflow.
The agency of the future is flexible and willing to take risks. Greenberg is a firm believer in the disruptive aspect, and, therefore, R/GA will — in his own words — always only be 80% ‘done’. After all, you have to keep on moving. And it is great to see R/GA making a statement in four entirely different areas.
Climbing to C-level, finding consultants on sneakers and convincing clients that advertising is more than merely a website or commercial is easier said than done. As an agency we have the ingredients to get there as long as we don’t forget to put into practice what we also establish for our clients. After all, things only start to get dangerous when you have everything 100% figured out…