What Type of Ad Agency is Right for You? Part II

In a previous article written last week by our EVP, Account Development, Stu Kamen, we discussed full-service agencies and specialty firms and how to know which one is right for you. Russ Petrocine, our President, offered some interesting insight in response to our initial post. Here are his thoughts:

Another direction that specialty firms may take is to work only within a particular industry or product category.

For example, an ad agency in the Midwest specializes in education and works with perhaps as many as 80 colleges. Likewise, there are agencies that specialize in automotive advertising and work with probably 50-100 car dealers. Almost every industry has its own specialized network of advertising agencies to choose from.

The advantages I see with this is that a specialized agency may develop a tried and true methodology, sort of an “advertising in a box.” And what they’re doing works— to an extent. But they also generally have no concern for client conflicts, so you may end up seeing similarly produced material and messages within the same marketing area. Plus, in my opinion, the work can get redundant, meaning there is little to no true client identity.

An agency that works in multiple vertical markets can bring ideas from one industry to another, keeping it fresh and novel.

For example, we worked with a car dealer and created a Midnight Madness promotion, which is typical of the automotive industry. Then, we took this idea to a college admissions event and it was hugely successful. The point being, something that is typical of one industry and atypical of another still worked because we were able to learn from our successes and apply it to a different field. A Midnight Madness college admission event is extremely rare, yet it was fantastically successful.

Similarly, we bought a specific out-of-home media (billboards, bus and train, etc.) for a health insurance client. We quickly recognized the benefit that a similar media buy might offer one of our clients in the financial industry, as well as a different college client. A niche advertising agency may not have the experience that a full-service industry may have enabling them to apply effective tactics across different platforms.

In short, the diversity of experiences gained by working across a wide variety of industries may bring a level of expertise that is lost with “cookie cutter” agencies.