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Agency Scope Insights: Marketing in an unprecedented time

The fourth edition of Agency Scope 2020/21 commences fieldwork in early 2021 and Johanna McDowell, Scopen Partner and director for the UK and South Africa, notes that in this unprecedented time, information that enables agencies to see their positioning in the market through marketers eyes is invaluable...
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As we feel our way around the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has created, the information to be gleaned from virtual face-to-face in depth interviews with an anticipated 450 participants - including 280 senior marketers and chief marketing officers (CMOs) - will see the 4th Agency Scope take its place as the preeminent tool for agencies to determine where they stand in the “new normal”.

Agency Scope is a biennial study conducted by international research consultancy SCOPEN, and the focus for 2021 looks certain to highlight not just the shock and gloom of Covid, but the positives the marketing industry actively created in 2020.

Scopen co-founder and global CEO, César Vacchiano, says he has been pleasantly surprised to note that from his interactions across the world, most of the independent agencies have dealt well with the financial impact of Covid-19.

Many marketers, he points out, realised early in the pandemic that investing in data analytics and technology to maintain brand purpose was key to survival. Without being able to take advantage of the sudden leap to digital campaigns, many more marketing firms may not have made it this far.

With every study, I have been amazed at the insight into industry players that marketing leaders are willing to share. As Grey Advertising’s Paul Jackson put it: “South Africa’s Agency Scope is a vital health-check of our agency and our industry, as seen by marketers, providing insight into how we are tracking against our peers and identifying trends in relation to other global markets.”

Jackson mirrored the sentiment of other agency leaders by noting that these insights provide “the important focus necessary to support the implementation of our agency's strategic plans”.

The age of adaptive marketing


Scopen’s experience shows that subscribers to Agency Scope often refer back to the insights they received about their agency which, in this age of adaptive marketing, can be a game changer.

The rigorous interview process and topics discussed with leaders in the marketing sector provides a depth of analysis from which action can be taken. From actual client satisfaction to comparing integrated services offerings between agencies, this study of the creative and media agency landscape in South Africa often provides agencies with a “perception versus reality” moment to change or refocus their efforts.

In the words of James Moffat, CEO of Promise, the data on agency image overview, performance and market perception “brings the awareness of reality versus how we see ourselves”, enabling a fresh look at their business.

With his knowledge of the industry across the continents, César believes the global snapshot in 2021 is likely to show the growth of independent agencies, as well technical capabilities being combined with brand purpose.

However, we both agree that there is a definite skills and knowledge gap that marketers will have to tackle in a world somewhat more complex post-Covid-19, with an emerging trend being mergers in the multinational agency space, as well as the amalgamation of creative and media agencies.

We believe that the Agency Scope analysis of the 2021 fieldwork will bring an overview of experience gleaned by CMOs that starts with the sudden impact of the early 2020 global lockdowns and leads to the resources and agility they employed to adapt when faced with no other choice.

This, I believe, will definitely be one for the books.

Agency Scope is a study of the creative and media agency landscape in South Africa. It is a biennial study conducted by Scopen Africa which is part of the Scopen Global group that is active in 12 countries. Our universe of analysis in 2019/2020 in South Africa consisted of 239 face-to-face interviews with the highest-level decision makers in marketing.

About Johanna McDowell

Johanna McDowell counsels clients and agencies around expectations in the advertising, marketing process. She is CEO of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS) and managing partner for SCOPEN in the UK and South Africa. Contact Johanna on tel +27 (0)10 594 0281, email her at az.oc.noitcelesycnega@annahoj and follow her on Twitter at @jomcdowell.

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