Can One Agency Really Do It All?

I work at what you’d consider an integrated, full-service agency. But in this world of exploding tactics and new media everything, trying to put together a truly comprehensive, multi-media campaign that builds brands, engages consumers and drives sales seems impossible. Or is it?

Theoretically, of course, one agency can do it all, but think about how it actually works. You need a budget or an assignment or an idea to get started, then a kickoff meeting with everyone in the room. Then a brief — a what? A creative brief? An engagement strategy? A list of tactics? Someone has to make those calls. And you’d better hope there are people in the agency, preferably all of them, who know how all the pieces integrate — they all need to understand social, broadcast, and user experience, and SEO. Plus, a PR strategy needs to be in place for seeding and publicizing the work when it’s ready to be launched. Someone has to manage the process, corral the creative elements, get the client’s hundreds of approvals on everything, and make sure it all gets produced correctly. Oh yeah, the agency has to make money on this when it’s done.
I leave it to you to answer how many shops can do all of the above — in some semblance of order, without regular staff and process meltdowns, and with brilliance reflected in the produced work. It’s no wonder so many agency brains are feeling scrambled these days.

It’s the subject of my new column on Talent Zoo, which will be on the home page tomorrow.
On a side note, the folks at TZ have asked me to make the titles of my columns more straightforward so folks seeing titles via Facebook, Twitter, RSS Feed, e-mail, or some other media will know instantly whether it’s something they want to read or not. Whereas before, my titles were clever but a little vague. A good suggestion, but a transition nonetheless. So in the new world of column headlines, it’s Straightforwardness 1, Cleversville 0.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Nice one, Dan. I agree that it’s a chaotic time in marcom. What you left unsaid is the rise of the client in this. It’s now incumbent on clients to manage the chaos, and conduct the unruly orchestra. And how many clients are truly prepared to conduct? Not very many.

  2. Thanks, bro.
    Think I said something like it towards the end of the column:
    “Of course, many clients aren’t buying the all-in-one agency idea. They parcel out assignments across a bunch of agencies, some of whom may be specialized. But like the example cited by Adweek, all agencies see a spot on a client roster as a chance to grab more and prove themselves worthy.
    Clients need a strong guiding hand to manage several agencies with competing agendas, and not many clients have that steadiness. Look for more agencies to grab pieces of the pie they can’t swallow.”
    Clients are thinking short-term these days, like everyone else. It’s a “Git R Done” mentality, and the big picture gets lost much of the time.