Self-Disrupt: Creating the Next Agency Model

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“Innovation is the introduction of the relevant and the new” ~ R/GA

The advertising industry is ripe for disruption, and agencies are re-imagining their model to deliver innovation to clients. R/GA has long been known as one of the most innovative agencies in the industry since its founding in 1977, and has been pushing the boundaries ever since. Ad agencies are shifting to encompass more than just straightforward advertising, and R/GA has been at the forefront of this change.

The media habits of consumers are changing, and agencies must adapt to meet those demands. No longer are consumers following traditional media habits such as reading, listening and watching. Consumers now have a new set of technological habits, including tweeting, streaming and scrolling. These all build off the original three media habits, but create an entirely new way of communicating and gathering information. These new tech habits yield data, and data is the currency of the smart connected age.

Purpose, innovation, ecosystem, experience, community and culture are the most important factors when it comes to designing a model for disruption. When all six of those elements are working together is when agencies can find themselves in the center of disruption. R/GA has built upon these principles to create a new model of agency. As Barry Wacksman, EVP Global Chief Strategy Officer stated, R/GA is introducing a new agency model that transcends advertising and encompasses eight main components: ventures, consulting, agency, intellectual property, connected spaces and studios. R/GA’s main focus is on the first three items of the aforementioned list of capabilities: ventures, consulting and agency.

The venture capital industry invests about $80 billion in startups every year, whereas the advertising industry’s estimated worth is about $60 billion a year. The VC industry is based on failure – 19 out of every 20 startups don’t make it and never bring in a profit for the VC. R/GA saw this statistic as an entry point in the VC industry. The main reason for failure is a lack of execution, and success is rooted in execution. R/GA found that the key to running a successful VC firm was rooted in a new equation, “financial capital + creative capital + client relationships.” They’ve been able to not only provide financial backing to startups, but also offer them the creative services they need to actualize the product as well introduce the startup to R/GA’s vast and powerful connections.

The next element of R/GA’s new agency model is consulting, which the agency defines simply as “helping the C-suite innovate.” Saneel Radia, R/GA’s Global Head of Consulting prototypes new experiences and introduces new technologies into a client’s business. Consulting is not a new practice, but fusing consulting with an advertising agency is widely unheard of, and R/GA has tapped into a unique market by doing so. They are able to provide clients with innovative ideas to move their business forward while also providing them with the necessary tools to market and advertise these changes.

The last main element of the new agency model is going back to the agency itself. Agencies have always revolved around helping clients grow, but now Nick Law, Global COO, states that the agency’s main goal should be to “help brands capitalize on disruptive technologies and emerging behaviors,” through connected communication and connected design. Storytelling is the backbone of advertising, and by figuring out what the audience wants to say first, the agency can then dovetail the client’s message on top which creates a sentimental and trusted relationship between the brand and the consumer.

R/GA is disrupting the industry through innovation within the agency. Ventures, consulting and agency are just three ways to look at the agency through a different lens, but there is no limit as to how creative agencies can get when it comes to venturing into new territory.

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