2018 Demand for Advertising Executives

The 2018 Demand for Advertising executives is expected to remain stable in 2018, that according to new research from The Creative Group. Three-quarters of the ad agencies surveyed plan to maintain current levels, while on-out-of -every-twenty agencies plan to grow their firms. According to The Creative Group,

“Five percent of advertising and marketing executives surveyed plan to expand their teams. The majority (78%) anticipate maintaining staff levels and hiring primarily to fill vacated roles. In addition, 53% of executives said it’s challenging to find creative professionals today, up from 45% six months ago.”

A Shift in Demand for Advertising Executives

At The Good Search, we’ve witnessed a shift in the demand for advertising executives. A greater percentage of our executive recruiting engagements are for advertising executives on the client side. What we’ve witnessed as executive headhunters is but a reflection of a greater ad industry trend.

Remarkably, a growing number of ad agencies and media agencies are competing with their own clients for business as some of the world’s most beloved brands build their own ad agencies in-house. Apple is reportedly created an internal agency to handle its advertising work after expressing its unhappiness with its longtime advertising Agency of Record TBWA/Media Arts Lab. This is the very agency that Steve Jobs had TBWA create for Apple — the agency that created Apple’s most iconic ads, including “1984” and “Think Different.” AdWeek has reported the tech giant has restructured its relationship with its ad agency, TBWA\Media Arts Lab, to focus more on creating digital and regional campaigns—and less on translating, or “localizing,” big brand campaigns for global markets.

In-House Ad Agency Disintermediation

Apple’s recent move to bring more advertising in-house is part of a growing trend. The Association of National Advertisers released a report in August 2017 that found direct advertiser management and fulfillment of production has resulted in some agency, producer, and post-production supplier disintermediation, reduced work, and lower fees for those entities. Disintermediation applies downward pressure on the demand for advertising executives at ad agencies. According to a recent ANA member survey, 40 percent of ANA member companies have taken some production management/execution previously handled by an agency and brought it in-house over the past year.

A second trend is also resulting in a reshuffling of talent. The Agency of Record model is what it once was.  Clients are rethinking the Agency of Record model. PepsiCo is experimenting with a more flexible model of curated teams at Omnicom across BBDO, TBWA/Chiat/Day and 180 LA.  PepsiCo President of the Global Beverages Group explained in a recent Ad Age article:

Where the efficiency comes in, we’re not buying a whole agency infrastructure. We’re curating the exact number of people at the exact seniority with the exact capabilities we need.

However, as Avi Dan recently wrote in Forbes, the more flexible Galaxy model did not keep PepsiCo from using other ad agencies outside Omnicom. He observes that the Agency of Record relationship model may have jumped the shark:

For a few years now there have been predictions about the future of marketing’s Agency of Record model – the age-old, exclusive partnership between a marketer and its agency. Now that relationship model is under fire. AOR tenures are disappearing, marketers are enlisting agencies outside of their roster, and many marketers simply don’t have a traditional roster at all.

The Senior Executive Value Proposition

The rise of in-house agencies on the client side is a common trend in professional services.  Companies that use lawyers, accountants, ad agencies — and, yes, even executive search firms —  learn through that experience and often decide to do some of that work themselves. Consequently, professional service offerings of advertising and media agencies must adapt to address evolving needs.  The volatility of AOR agreements is but a symptom of that overarching trend.  At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: value. It is not an easy thing to deliver — when, according to WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, advertising is in a state of anarchy.  However, increasingly, the most sought-after senior executives are those who deliver exceptional value, despite advertising’s ever-shifting advertising landscape. For exceptional talent, the demand for advertising executives will always remain high

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