Are brands challenging agencies to join them on the journey of innovation?

The journey is to look past the immediate “brief”, or lack of “brief”, that they are being presented with.

Bear with me….

Over the past couple of months, I have had a number of deep conversations with brands which have solidified my thoughts around the marketplace, especially in the consumer goods sector. It is becoming evident that everyone in the marketing mix is under scrutiny. Budgets are under the microscope and being sweated. People need to evolve in their roles or leave.

The marketing role is now increasingly having to adopt a position of innovation in order to drive the market and carve a point of difference, as the landscape becomes more and more challenging.

Uncertainty, in its true definition, is the “unknown”. This is our nation.

More and more brands like Unilever, Barclaycard etc. are taking the historic agency role in-house in order to showcase efficiency, effectiveness and ROI. This is at the top of the agenda. Naturally.

Although this move will able marketing leads to closely monitor these things, it does pose questions around innovation and creative inspiration. Last week we saw LEGO take the bold move of looking externally for their creative lead in a bid to push creative standards.

For me, this shows that LEGO knows that in order to ride the wave of uncertainty, they need to look holistically and to push the wider picture.

This has made me think around the celebration of lifting your head up in regard to innovation.

After working both brand and agency side, this is my belief.

External agencies are the pulse of pushing a brand to see a wider picture because there are working across sector. This aids creative expansion and growth.

For example, we’re seeing the rise of TikTok and Twitch in the sport and gaming arena, but it won’t be long before brands from other sectors enter this. With agencies being at the forefront of new technology, cross-sector influence is key.

The role of the agency has changed and needs to be positioned as an external lean-to for this exact reason.

The innovator and the eye-opener.

It is down to the agency now, in my opinion, to carve the brief and positioning for themselves in order to showcase value.

No longer can the lack of brief or a static brief be the starting point.

This needs to look above and beyond to help brands solve some of the most testing marketing challenges that have ever been faced in times of uncertainty and penny watching.