Personalization, authenticity, transparency and integrity are the characteristics that consumers are looking for in brands. It makes sense then that brands who want to shake up their sales and marketing should be looking for the very same things in their marketing partners. And those are generally not the big guys.

Legacy and mass brands are desperately trying to catch up with their smaller, newer competitors. But many of them are still using the same marketing agencies and tactics they always have.

The times, they are a’changing

Advertising convention says big brands need big agencies, but this is becoming less and less true as the marketing landscape moves toward personalization at an unbelievable speed. Big agencies are burdened with some of the same issues (legacy business models, shareholders, etc.) that mass brands have. They are slow to adapt change and have lots of layers of management which often leads to the same (very expensive) work they’ve been doing for years. The results of the ‘same old’ are causing mass brands to lose share fast.

And that can’t last. Along with transparent spending plans, marketers will continue to be expected to do more with less, leading to an increasing emphasis on marketing effectiveness.

Small brands, on the other hand, are constantly innovating and have built their brands and marketing efforts around values and product offerings that feel right to today’s consumers.

Like small brands, small agencies are able to innovate and try new things because their ideas are allowed to grow and flourish without the burden of big agency bureaucracy shutting them down. Small agencies aren’t forced to work with the same internal teams and holding company partners, so they can collaborate with the truly innovative partners. That’s becoming more critical as 4 big expensive content pieces turns into 4,000 smaller ones, without any increases in budgets. What’s called for now is efficient and innovative work that can be quickly monitored for effectiveness.

Personalization and customization win over generalization.

Last year General Mills really shook things up by moving some of their business to three small creative agencies for some U.S. projects.  Michael Fanuele, General Mills VP-chief creative officer even said “the industry is teaming with small agencies of every variety doing really powerful work.”  Two of the agencies are working on projects across their portfolio of brands and another is working on the bigger brands like Cheerios, Nature Valley and Yoplait.

Carving out projects (a model big agencies aren’t setup to handle) lets big clients get fresh, divergent thinking that they aren’t getting from their AOR. The deep expertise these agencies have lets them experiment to find solutions to help a brand grow with relatively low risk.

It’s all happening

Big brands are already seeing the benefits of moving to smaller agencies. COMvergence, an independent research firm focusing on agency account reports that the most notable trend in 2017 is large and midsize brands moving their media business from agencies owned by the Big Six holding companies to smaller independent operations. The benefits of more personalized attention and work for their brands is already showing. Of the 42 brands that put their agency in review, only two ended with the original agency retaining the accounts and 16 moved their accounts to independents. Brands want change.

At Sawtooth we specialize in reaching the growing population of Health-Conscious consumers with collaborative, experienced teams super focused on helping brands reach their fullest potential quickly. Our customized insights tool, I-Factor®, helps brands make media and messaging choices that get consumers so engaged, they become part of your brand story.

If you have a brand that needs a shot of energy and innovative thinking, let’s talk.

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