Holding-company teams aren’t the way to go

Your article “Holding Co. Teams: Promise or Peril?” [Nov. 22] was fascinating, but the $64,000 question is: After the all-star members of a winning holding company do their high-fives (over the phone, since most of them don’t actually work at the same place), how will the new client really be serviced?

With respect to the all-stars, who no doubt put aside their parochial agency issues for the greater good of the über-team, what happens on day one of actually servicing the account? Individual agencies are real teams; holding-company teams are merely amalgamations of talented individuals designed to perform in an “all-star game”—e.g., the pitch. And furthermore, not all all-star teams are good (see 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball).

Omnicom has it right, which is why they continue to be the most successful holding company. They appreciate the power of individual agency brands to deliver excellence for their respective clients. No doubt they could field an all-star holding-company team second to none. But it’s a credit to them that they don’t.

A smart client—however large, international, cosmic their presence—should understand that the power of teamwork of a talented group of individuals will yield the best solutions to their business and marketing issues.

If a client picks the best agency (not holding company) with a terrific agency all-star team that serves their needs and then ensures the individuals on the team truly work together, their business will be better served.

Lonny Strum

Managing director

Strum Consulting Group

Voorhees, N.J.

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