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Double standards - What can a media joint venture offer clients?

They present an alternative to big agencies, offering fully integrated solutions to clients that are far from 'one size fits all', two founders of media joint ventures argue

Jenny Biggam, founder, the7stars; founding partner, Eden (a joint venture with Adam & Eve/DDB)

Jenny Biggam, founder, the7stars; founding partner, Eden (a joint venture with Adam & Eve/DDB)

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JENNY BIGGAM, FOUNDER, THE7STARS; FOUNDING PARTNER, EDEN (A JOINT VENTURE WITH ADAM & EVE/DDB)

Why did you create a joint venture?

One of the things we set out to do when we launched the7stars was to be innovative in the way we worked and to try different things. Our business has never been about recreating a big media agency – it’s about doing things differently. We knew the partners at Adam & Eve and had worked with Jon [Forsyth] previously. So when they approached us with the idea of creating something new and different in the market, we were immediately excited.

What type of service does it offer to clients that you weren’t able to provide previously?

It’s about offering clients a faster, more innovative and modern way of working. For some of our clients, the biggest benefit is the increased creativity that they see from two agency brains working together, instead of separately. For others, it’s a great time-saver – the ability to issue a single comms brief instead of individual media and creative briefs.

How scalable is the service – is it essentially for smaller clients and projects or can big-spending brands use it?

I don’t think there is a size limit for clients choosing to work in an integrated way. The most frustrating challenge is breaking the increasingly inaccurate perception that the biggest media agencies get the best deals. You only have to look at the economy and the range of media buying options to know this can no longer be true.

To what degree does this show that agency groups were wrong to dispense with the full-service agency model and does it mark a step towards re-establishing this?

The world has moved on a lot since media departments were first separated from creative agencies. Digital, in particular, requires media and content to work together in a more intelligent way. But the "one size fits all" approach to agency models is a little old-fashioned, not to mention arrogant. There are benefits for some clients in full service, while others prefer to keep things separate. We’re not trying to create a model and say: "All clients should work in this way." We are just trying to give clients different options – ultimately, it’s the clients’ decision.

How inevitable is it that every advertising and media agency will look at launching similar joint ventures?

It takes a lot of time and a long-term commitment to get a joint venture to really work. Success is dependent on personalities and the ability to build teams that genuinely enjoy working together. So while imitation is always flattering, I don’t know whether every agency will have the appetite or the time to devote to making it work.

What’s the most innovative work that your media joint venture has created so far?

The campaign we did for Phones 4u last year was testament to the way agencies can successfully work together. Two-second TV blips that created a social media frenzy, TV ads that went viral, a YouTube film featured on the front page of thesun.co.uk and a computer game played by millions. You would have no idea which agency did what or be sure if it was an online- or TV-based campaign. It sold a huge number of phones and with minimal client stress. That’s what we’re after.

ANDREW MCGUINNESS, FOUNDING PARTNER, BEATTIE MCGUINESS BUNGAY AND BMB MEDIA (A JOINT VENTURE WITH GOODSTUFF COMMUNICATIONS)

Why did you create a joint venture?

In response to changing client needs. Increasingly, small and medium-sized clients were saying they felt "lost" in the big agency networks and were very aware that they needed breakthrough creative media thinking to maximise the impact of their budget.

What type of service does it offer to clients that you weren’t able to provide previously?

We offer media and creative thinking that is joined up from its inception. No hierarchies, no divisions – just specialists working together to deliver for the client’s business.

How scalable is the service – is it essentially for smaller clients and projects or can big-spending brands use it?

It’s absolutely scalable. We don’t expect to win Unilever’s media business any time soon but, for the vast majority of clients spending less than £10 million, we offer a more
cost-effective, time-effective and creatively effective solution.

To what degree does this show that agency groups were wrong to dispense with the full-service agency model and does it mark a step towards re-establishing this?

It doesn’t. This isn’t about "righting wrongs", it’s about providing the right service to clients right now.

How inevitable is it that every advertising and media agency will look at launching similar joint ventures?

It’s not. Many agencies are hamstrung by the politics of their groups, even if it’s the right thing for their clients. Others, unfortunately, still don’t seem to get the importance of creative media thinking.

What’s the most innovative work that your media joint venture has created so far?

A groundbreaking performance-related deal for Pretty Polly with JCDecaux that gave the brand a presence it ordinarily could not have afforded.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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