An interview with Strategies: “COVID-19 has definitely marked the end of agency gurus”

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In the Special Reboot issue, Strategies gives voice to 23 media, agency and brand leaders. How are they going to get back on the road? What are their main takeaways from the two months spent in confinement?

Frédéric Messian shares his findings and his plan of action.

“One important observation from these two months of lockdown is that COVID-19 has definitely signed the end of the reign of agency gurus, whose tenets have been cruelly contradicted by the facts. Broadly speaking, we are now faced with an entirely different paradigm, more focused on listening. If there are two other lessons we can take home, it would be the flexibility that has emerged amongst consumers, as well as the human value, which is, more than ever, the core asset of our businesses. For the time being, the main priority should be to maintain this necessary agility, while, at the same time, clearly identifying the key points of this new deal.

For our 250 employees, even if the reopening of our premises will gradually reopen from May 25th, physical presence is no longer mandatory. It would be pure madness to force employees to systematically come into the office. Instead, we should expect teleworking to become more and more common. In the same way, the crisis will force us to come up with new ways of collaboration, somewhere in between full-time employees and the not yet sufficiently protected status of freelancer. These changes will obviously have repercussions on the physical organization of space, but also on the agency model, which adapts, for example, by moving from monthly to weekly reporting. From our side, we are going to revolutionize the agency with a new strategic road map for the next five years.

On the client side, things are less clear since these are bipartite discussions. But there are some avenues. Time-consuming physical meetings will no longer be essential and will give way to alternative methods, such as videoconferencing. It is also necessary to review the costly traditional model of agency competitions and the method by which agencies are remunerated, favoring monthly installments rather than pre-defined annual contracts. Both parties may find it beneficial.”