The Hybrid Agency Tango: Part 2

Excerpts from Henry Stewart Seminar with Vanessa Vollum Edwards

Welcome back to Part 2 of The Hybrid Agency Tango!  In the first part of the series we talked about the evolution of IHA from 1.0 to 2.0, into what is colloquially termed “Hybrid”.  We also covered the first element of the “Frenemies” tier on the Brand Led track, including the Pros and Cons of that tier. Here’s a refresher of our Hybrid Pyramid:

“Frenemies” Continued

As a quick reminder, the first thing you will notice is that the foundation of the Hybrid Pyramid is the “Frenemies” layer.  The Frenemies level is not officially part of the Hybrid model; however, it is the foundation of Hybrid.  It’s a symbiotic, yet competitive relationship, where both parties need each other, while simultaneously pursuing their own vested interests.

We led with Full-Service AOR, and this post follows up with Lead AOR + Niche Agencies, and then Alliance (Agency Led). Enjoy!

Lead AOR + Niche Agencies

Let’s move onto a slightly better Frenemy scenario, where the Brand has a lead Agency of Record who likely brings some channel expertise and execution, but prides themselves on being a neutral party, willing to work with other niche subject matter expert Agencies.

While the Brand still owns marketing objectives, insights and managing the multitude of Agencies, the AOR Agency tends to own the MarCom strategy through creative development, working with specialty Agencies for media, digital or social channel strategies + executions.

One of the things that makes this model very effective is that you often get the best of both worlds.  On one hand, the Brand now has access to a diverse pool of subject matter experts, while also maintaining the benefits of their AOR relationship. This means that the Brand will often get a better balance of advertising, content, channel strategy and channel execution. This is clearly a step in the right direction!





Agency Led Alliance

Now let’s finally talk about the 1st real tier of Hybrid, something I call the Alliance tier.  Why do I call it Alliance? Because Alliance is defined as “a union formed for mutual benefit,” which is exactly what this tier should be.  Technically, I consider this the first true win-win relationship in the pyramid.

In this tier, the Brand recognizes that they need to bring specific channel strategy and execution in-house in areas that have been deemed critical to their future success (I often see this happening with content, digital media, social and email marketing). This can manifest itself with Brands hiring channel experts who can live and breathe the Brand day in and day out.

When Brands bring their priority channel strategy and execution in-house, they can more easily bridge the gap between Brand, consumer and industry knowledge and their channel strategy.  In addition, it often benefits Brands to bring the creative development of their priority channels in-house to increase speed to market and create cost savings.  What I like about this model is that the Brand and their Agency partner share in both marketing responsibility and accountability.





That’s a Wrap – For Now

Thank you for reading the 2nd blog in a larger series that focuses on the evolution from in-house to Hybrid!  Our 3rd blog in the series will focus on the Agency Led Integration track, before jumping over to the Brand Led track.  Remember, at the end of the series, we will be discussing the Hybrid Magic Quadrant, which should provide some practical orientation for where you are today and where you may want to be in the future.

© 2020 Creative Performance Inc., All Rights Reserved

About Vanessa Vollum Edwards

Hailing from Portland, OR, Vanessa graduated from university with a degree in Philosophy. An amateur helicopter and fixed wing pilot since age sixteen, she began her first career as a pilot for LifeFlight. Upon completing her MBA, Vanessa was recruited by a fellow classmate into becoming the CFO/COO for a digital agency experiencing rapid growth. The agency was acquired in 2010. Over the last decade, Vanessa has built a strategic consultancy focused on empowering agency principals, accelerating growth, increasing profitability and deploying agency management software.  She is a founder of AgencyStory®, a patent pending curated analytics solution for the marketing services industry.

About CPI

Creative Performance Inc. (CPI) is a marketing operations consultancy for the marketing services industry (both Agency + In-House). We specialize in improving our client’s Organizational Agility and Operational Resilience; through a seamless integration of industry best-practices, mar-tech and business intelligence.  CPI is an AgencyStory®, Deltek®, Oracle Agile and Workamajig® partner.

Contact CPI

We help agency leadership achieve their goals.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.