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What the global political climate tells us about the future of agencies

By Marketing Magazine

The profession’s growing mistrust of established players and movement towards smaller agencies, says Jason Dooris, can be compared to current trends in international politics.

Cory Bernardi’s defection from the Coalition to form his own party is just another in a long line of worldwide shifts. But while most of these shifts have been at a political level, there is plenty to suggest our industry is heading for similar upheaval. People are saying no to the status quo.

So do you need to adopt a right-wing political viewpoint, die your hair red and invest in fake tan to stay ahead of the market? Not quite, but the success of some unlikely national and global leaders helps give us an idea of the climate we’re now dealing with.

Let’s be clear: this is not a politics piece, and is certainly no indication of my own persuasions.

But Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House, the success of the Brexit campaign in the UK, and even Pauline Hanson’s return to the forefront of Australian politics are all indicators of a broader global trend.

People are sick of the doublespeak, and have started saying no to the constant bullshit they hear from those in charge, opting instead to fall in behind people they believe to be ‘genuine’.

Part of Trump’s appeal was his promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, and his campaign was based around sticking to simple slogans that spoke to the everyman, like “Make America great again”. He may be a billionaire TV star, but the fact he was not a politician led the electorate to believe he was ‘one of them’, which was a major contributing factor to Trump taking the White House.

In Britain, those who voted to leave the EU in the Brexit polls felt they were no longer represented by the David Camerons of the world, and instead sought answers from a man like Nigel Farage. Why Farage? A quick Google image search of his name shows the former UKIP leader charging a foaming pint of ale to the camera. He cultivated an image of being a man of the people, who wasn’t part of the political machine.

Here in Australia, Senator Bernardi has said he abandoned the Government because “The level of public disenchantment with the major parties, the lack of confidence in our political process and the concern about the direction of our nation is very, very strong.”

These are oversimplifications of hugely complex issues – representing millions of people can’t be boiled down to one factor – but the perceived ‘realness’ of these people and their rejection of the traditional political machine has been a huge factor in their popularity (or the cause for their action, in Bernardi’s case).

And while people may not agree with their policies, they have embraced the way they sold their message. Authenticity, or at least perceived authenticity, is the key – and not just in politics.

Within our own industry, there is a growing mistrust of the established players and a movement towards smaller agencies – ones which promise to shake up the status quo.

Last year, the ‘Digital Marketing Report’ found there was a huge disparity in perceptions when a client terminates an agency.

Specifically, agencies were of the belief that changes at the client’s end was the biggest cause of terminations, blaming 56% of their lost business on ‘new management at client’.

But while a client going in a different direction as a result of new management is an issue that’s cost virtually every agency business, it’s a staggeringly naïve, head-in-the-sand attitude to believe that more than half the business you lose is someone else’s fault.

That was enforced when compared to client perception, with ‘new management at client’ listed at just 18% of the reason they decided to terminate an agency.

Pricing/value was the top reason from client side to leave an agency, at 37%, but what followed were a tight bunch of issues that centre around communication, “the bread and butter of most client and agency relationships”:

  • 24% were ‘unhappy with creative,’

  • 22% were ‘unhappy with project management/account management’, and

  • 21% were ‘unhappy with strategy.’

The report made the fairly apparent conclusion that ‘agencies that turn a blind eye to why their clients are really leaving will fail to address key improvement areas. The dysfunctional circle will continue until a new entrant comes along to disrupt the cycle.’

It’s exactly what we’re seeing: smaller agencies that pride themselves on better communication skills, which leads to a perception of authenticity from the client, swooping in and netting serious business.

And it’s not just that the status quo is beginning to repel clients, the best young talent working in the industry don’t want to work the old way either.

Research from LinkedIn and 4A’s presented at the 4A’s Transformation 2016 conference in Miami Beach found that compared to similar industries, turnover at agencies went up 10%, and that there was a global net talent loss of 25%. Scary numbers.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, with agencies that have a ‘culture that fits my personality’ holding a distinct advantage in keeping hold of their best and brightest.

“The research shows that professionals in the advertising industry are looking for more than just money to keep them at a company,” said Jann Schwarz, Linkedin’s global director, agency holding companies.

“The solution to filling this gap is for agencies to focus on telling the story of their culture and purpose, showcasing their Talent Brand in a compelling way that offers sustainable differentiation.”

So it’s “a new entrant… to disrupt the cycle” that will win clients, while agencies presenting “sustainable differentiation” will keep the talent.

New and different.

The old way of doing things is simply no longer effective. It’s been proven on a global political scale, and it’s just as obvious to see in our industry.

You can’t tell a client ‘it’s you not me’ and expect to keep them, nor will your employees stick around if they don’t believe your agency’s culture aligns with their own personal attitudes.

About Jason Dooris

I have created and designed marketing and growth strategies for some of the world’s recognisable brands including Amazon, Deloitte, Saatchi and Saatchi, Optus, Virgin Mobile, Big W, Woolworths Supermarkets, Dan Murphys, Nespresso and Landlease. I have also worked with many Government departments on culture change and identity branding.

I am passionate about people leadership and development - empowering and engaging large marketing and brand teams through coaching, training, and mentorship for performance excellence. I currently lead a global/remote team across multiple locations including Australia, Argentina, Hong Kong and China.

I have a proven history of achievement in delivering corporate growth plans, and successful marketing initiatives to stimulate revenue growth and outperform sales objectives and have strong digital technology capabilities in advertising, communications, social media, marketing, and creative agency management.

My career experience has enabled me to present and speak across numerous platforms and industries as a subject matter expert, namely: ABC News, Sunrise, for the Australian Government, IBM Annual Global Conference, Emirates Annual Conference, AMP Board, New York Art Directors Club, Media & Marketing Europe, Australian Financial Review, and Web Summit.

I also volunteer my time and give back to the community via Board and Committee memberships.

Some key achievements and skills:

Ø Exceptional abilities in the development/implementation of marketing and growth innovations, ensuring business sustainability and continuous growth while cultivating strategic partnerships.

Ø A high impact leader and influencer with proven expertise in directing/coordinating all top to bottom functions of marketing, media, data analytics, traditional, & digital creative campaigns, business processes and performance groups.

Ø Completed large scale advertising and marketing projects, managing the entire product lifecycle, including research, prototype development, manufacturing, sales, branding, and marketing.

Ø Outstanding business and financial acumen with a forward-looking approach and collaborative styles.

Ø Interpersonal dexterity and executive influencing skills to build and sustain strong and mutually beneficial professional relationships with key stakeholders, clients, and staff members.

My area of expertise includes Brand Awareness & Integration, New Business Development, Team Leadership & Direction, Public Speaking Abilities, Consultation Services, Growth Strategies Implementation, Commercial Business Acumen, Hard-Hitting Negotiations, Stakeholder Engagement, Course Marketing, Business Transformation, Marketing & Advertising, Product Development, Risk Mitigation, Advertising and Media Solutions.

Feel free to email me at or visit my personal website

“Its been an exciting first half!” Jason Dooris

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