Brand vs Agency Led Relationships

Notice the trend lately, more and more brands are reaching out directly to digital platforms (Google, Facebook) to develop strategic and long-term relationships.  What happens to the role of the agency when brands start going directly to the platform?

In a recent move, Heineken inked a deal directly with Facebook and as their US CMO, Lesya Lysyj, said “we get more senior involvement (from Facebook) when we come ourselves. I think they just spend more time when it’s the client themselves dealing with them.”  She also stated that they were really happy with “our ability to get senior strategic thinking and interaction with [Facebook] … They are not only helping us solve some of our problems, but they are actually helping us with some of our opportunities.”

Isn’t the role of the agency to help solve problems and build opportunities?  Not to say that, as a brand, having even more qualified people work on your problems and opportunities is a bad thing, but it’s a great wake up call to agencies to realize that as brands mature in the digital space they become smart enough to look for the experts in all areas.

Also, it’s important to realize that large platforms are making this a part of their offering and wanting to work directly with the right brands.  As a brand owner you should seize the opportunity to reach out and ask for a more direct relationship.  It also means you’ll need the right digital expertise on the brand itself and when you bring that expertise in house, instead of relying on agencies solely, you will get a different level of service and results.

The agency of the future knows how to work with their brands in new ways with more strategic and large partners like Facebook, Google and Twitter.  The brand teams of the future (actually of the now) need to have the digital expertise to work with those types of partners as well.

Matt Kane

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