The recent Campaign article on TAG’s deal with Williams Lea describing their transition from “agencies’ secret weapon to global brand ally” rightly lauds them for growing an industry from nothing. But the idea that TAG has helped drag production “out of the dark ages on a fast-flowing tide of new technology” is stretching things a bit.
Once Procurement came along and quite rightly said “140 quid to change a comma to a full stop? I don’t think so, matey” the decoupling of production was inevitable. So it made perfect sense to take studio work out of Soho and into cheaper places with cheaper people.
Sensible? Yes. Innovative? Arguably. Vanguard of new technologies? Er, no.
All we’re talking about here is taking a manual production line and recreating it elsewhere. And while a 20-30% cost saving kept procurement happy for a while, it’s hardly a secret that technology can now automate vast swathes of the convoluted manual amendment/localisation/implementation process – saving closer to 90%. That’s more like game-changing technology.
Now of course the decouplers do have some technologies, but only the same workflow, asset management and collaborative working tools that agencies do, so no client benefit there. In fact, all those hygiene systems do is streamline the repetitive old manual process (and force clients to adopt fixed ways of working), instead of stripping needless process out and flexing to the dynamic opportunities of the modern media mix.
We live in a real-time, optimisable, personalised world. Or at least consumers do. Using technology to automate implementation isn’t just about being 90% cheaper – you can now create a production platform around individual client needs; taking instant campaign response data, making informed changes, and getting your work back out there – in minutes rather than weeks.
Our industry should be championing new technologies, especially those that extend the value of creative ideas. So to describe a 10 year old cost-saving on an archaic manual process as a fast-track from the dark ages is selling everyone short, don’t you think?
(Originally published as a letter in response to the article in Campaign magazine)