The Promise of Media Agencies

NEW YORK A major challenge facing creative shops, media agencies and branded entertainment players is to acknowledge and effectively utilize the particular abilities that their counterparts offer, executives from the agency, client and consulting worlds said this morning.

“We’ve got this plethora of skill sets that hasn’t figured out a way to marry itself,” said Mitch Kanner, CEO of 2 Degrees, speaking during “The Grandmasters” panel at Advertising Week. “Hollywood is not taking advantage of the skill sets, the knowledge, infrastructure, the consumer insight that the advertising agencies and media agencies bring to the table. And also, the ability to triangulate around a brand so that there’s actually a partnership around this creation of content.”

Instead of one camp trying to usurp another, Kanner suggested that they learn how to use each other better on behalf of clients.

Another panelist, former Western Initiative Media North American president Michael Kassan, said media agencies have shown the most promise when it comes to collaboration.

“As a general rule, the media agencies tend to be leading that discussion,” said Kassan, now CEO of a consultancy called Media Link. “The media agencies have done a better job at creating a more collegial approach.”

The panelists, which also included Grandparents.com CEO Jerry Shereshewsky, DDB worldwide director of business development Cleve Langton and moderator John Partilla, said a rebundling of different specialist shops might or might not be the answer. That said, without better collaboration, the different camps would continue to tread on each other’s turf.

“The ability to work with clients in new ways means all kinds of new opportunities for any new business model,” said Partilla, president of Time Warner’s global media group in New York. “The opportunity to do that is the same as the cost to do that, meaning [that] if you as a business are free to play in anyone’s backyard, if you’re free to make branded content . . . it means that someone else can do the same with your business model. So figure out what your core competencies are because everyone is free to play everywhere.”

“Clarity in the marketplace would go a long way towards negating the need for people who do what I do,” said Kassan, whose consultancy in part has helped clients sort out the blurred lines.

About 60 people attended the 70-minute panel discussion, which took place at the Time Warner building in midtown Manhattan.