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Agencies vs. Management Consultancies: There’s No Debate


Just focusing on the “big idea” doesn’t cut it anymore. Gone are the mad-men days of art and copy duos hammering out gut-feeling creative to sell products and services. In the age of digital disruption, clients demand business results. This means data leading the strategy, agile content creation, and the ability to A/B test, rapidly measure, and pivot direction on the fly.

During Ad Week New York, I watched as management consultancies and creative shops duked it out in a panel discussion called: “The Great Debate: Agencies or Consultancies.” This talk focused on how the digital era has led to an instrumental shift in the ad agency model. In the past, clients looked to traditional creative shops to lead marketing initiatives, but now management consultancies are replacing traditional agencies in many cases, as the Agency of Record for big name brands.

As each side argued their piece — the traditional agencies advocating for gut creative instinct, and the consultancies for their strategic implementation expertise, one thought came to mind: there is no debate. Why do we need to choose between creative excellence and business results? We deserve to have it all.

When you reflect on the state of the industry over the past few decades you’ll notice something interesting. Marketing Agencies have spent years favoring shiny creative over the classic 4P’s (product, price, promotion, place) or other core fundaments of marketing. How did marketing become more focused on messaging than other core aspects of the business such as pricing, new product, or profitability?

To this day, this messaging-driven approach prompts clients to share creative briefs with their agency partners instead of collaborating with them to get to the root cause of their business challenges. With such a tremendous emphasis placed on the creative brief rather than the business brief, real opportunities to impact change are lost. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have a 30 second TV spot or a 10 second YouTube pre-roll ad if you haven’t solved your core business problems or jumped on the opportunities that are in front of you.

2 ½ years ago, I set out to bridge the gap between agencies and management consultancies by creating GALE, a business agency built to drive results. We bring together the best of both worlds by combining the deep business acumen of a consultancy with the talent to deliver great creative.

Sure, we could be one of those agencies focused on “big idea” creative, but that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to change the trajectory of your business…so don’t even think about giving us a creative brief.

Brad Simms
CEO & President