CHAPTER NINE

THE NEW AGENCY

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The New Order of Creativity

“THERE ARE THESE TWO YOUNG FISH SWIMMING ALONG, AND they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, which nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How's the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and says, ‘What the hell is water?’”

“This Is Water,” a parable presented by David Foster Wallace in his commencement address to graduates of Kenyon College in 2005, is an eloquent description of today's marketing conundrum. To me, the two young fish highlight the challenge that we face every day making decisions in the current marketing context; our frame of reference is anchored to past experiences that are constantly being overturned or providing false direction.

CHANGE OR DIE

In January 2009, I wrote an article for Strategy magazine called “The New Agency Social Order” and issued a “change or die” call to all agencies, including my own. By a new social order, I'm referring to the structural changes that I see agencies needing then and today to stay viable in the years to come. It will take a new breed of marketing communications agency to create and deliver the messaging that is needed to connect with the customer in an environment where the only constant is change.

As we've discussed, agencies, like all businesses today, need a different operating philosophy ...

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