The first acknowledged advertising agency was William Taylor in 1786. (Source: The Practice of Advertising, Mackay, Adrian.) I’m not very sure of who William Taylor’s clients were or what products or services they offered, but I feel very confident that William Taylor was their only advertising counsel.
Early models suggest that the agency of record acts as an outside counsel in all aspects of the marketing and advertising of a client’s goods and services. Creative, PR, Media Buying, all the Mad Men essentials handled under one roof. This model has survived and worked for years and years. As the digital world changed, evolved, and grew in usage, the focus of the agency of record seemed to be diluted and compromised. All of a sudden, clients everywhere are ready to start exploring different combinations or possibilities. And we as advertising professionals allowed them to segment us and force us to create specialties. Shop A has become creative focused, Shop B are master media buyers, and Shop C is a PR powerhouse. Except now, there is Shop D that is focused on the digital world; internet, social media, and email marketing.
Now it’s time to break for a “dad-ism”:
“Looks to me the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.” – Floyd Lail, my dad, circa 1980-something
It appears that as quickly as the agency of record model evolved into the “project shop” model, things are moving back to the agency of record at many shops. The need for the Agency of Record model seems to be re-emerging.
I believe that it is our job as advertising and marketing executives to educate our clients and future prospects the best ways to approach their campaigns through a collective effort. It is our job to provide the clients the greatest efforts we have, the best ideas we have. I also believe that this effort will only be reached through the reformation of the agency of record model. That is – a collective team of specialized professionals working together to create a complete plan that works together like a well oiled machine.