Shipping Raw: Being First, Not Best

What if you gave someone license to do whatever the hell they wanted with your brand?

What if you found someone you trusted — someone who promised results — gave them a loose budget and handed them the keys to the kingdom?

What would happen? Would your customers head for the hills? Would your boss berate you?

If you weren’t able to control the output or have a say in the strategy or give final approval on concepts, would your dollars have been well spent?

You’re shaking your head “no.” It’s a natural, and — because of our current ad culture — a reasonable reaction. Arming an advertising agency with complete autonomy is rare, but some brands do it. The results aren’t always ideal, but it’s worth exploring, right?

Look. Agencies want to be treated like partners. Clients want to be treated like clients.

Obviously, clients pay agencies in exchange for a service, and to get results. Our job as agency professionals is to provide that service and to get those results. I’m not arguing against that. I totally get that. But this is a thought experiment and a discussion worth having.

What if there was a client-agency relationship that relied on a system of intuition and unconditional trust instead of order-taking and vendor-like approval processes?

My take: In the era of instantaneous Oreo Super Bowl tweets and Old Spice live-streaming, the brands that relentlessly ship raw content are the ones that will build tribes, earn trust and seriously change the game for their clients.

This isn’t to say that that long-term, ornate campaigns aren’t effective. But if that’s the only way you’re measuring your agency’s value, it might be time to shift your perspective. Giving agencies more leeway to adapt, create and publish unfiltered, humanistic content on their own timeline and set of standards allows your brand to be more relevant in consumer conversations.

Trade perfection for presence. Gain efficiency in lieu of control.

What I want to get across here is that it’s in the best interest of both client and agency to rebel against the old guard. Create brands that are present, ever-changing and real.

The rules are changing right under our noses.

The agencies of today will be broken up by small teams of nimble, consumer-savvy entertainers and strategists. It won’t happen today or even in the next five years, but it’s coming, my friends.

Toucan is a New Orleans-based advertising agency.

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