New Agency/Publisher Model... is another nail in the coffin of "the agency" (Originally published 11 October 2014)

Last week Leo Burnett announced they had formed a partnership with Huffington Post. It was spun as "groundbreaking" because it would offer Leo Burnett to position their brand Special K in new ways that would combine the Special K brand with the HuffPo brand.

Maybe I'm missing something, but this sounds a lot like the partnership that I and a lot of other media people have been doing for at least a couple of decades now.

What is new is that a creative agency is doing it directly. One of the reported benefits of doing this is because it is streamlining the go-to-market process. Mark Renshaw, Chief Innovation Officer of Leo Burnett, said "the partners have already reduced the time it takes to plan and execute a campaign down from eight to four weeks. It’s an 'acceleration thing for both of us.'"

To me this all sounds like acknowledgement that the agency system is broken and breaking down. Reading between the lines this announcement is basically saying "well, going through our media agency takes too long and they really aren't sure what we are doing from a strategic and positioning standpoint anyway, so why not cut out the middleman."

I couldn't agree more. Most media companies have been so concentrated on buying and quantitative measurement that they can't work as proponent of their brands and partners to the creative agencies, so now they are just getting cut out of the process altogether.

If anything this announcement says the agency model of creative-to-media-to-media-outlet is unwieldy, breaking down, and moving toward a smarter, faster, integrated model; one for which not a lot of large agencies be they creative, digital, media or otherwise are ready.