Digital & Social Media: Are Agencies the Solution, the Problem, or just Scenery?

For some time now I am observing that agencies do not really know what to do in this age of Digital and Social Media. They just do the very obvious. This will not be enough. Kevin Brennan, Kellogg UK marketing director said it in his words a few weeks ago:

"Whilst it's great to have widgets and apps and stunts on Facebook that
isn't going to make the Kellogg company stronger. We need an integrated
solution."

Today it needs more than a (more or less) creative idea. Today the brand communication needs to deliver real value in itself. It needs to deliver value on top of the (physical) product. That is not what agencies are known for to supply. Agencies tell stories, pick media, negotiate rebates. They are not really deep into the product itself. And planning still does not get its priority in consultancy.

Agencies will have to reinvent themselves from scratch if they want to be part of the solution. But who should do that? The creative director, not knowing about digital, mobility, the future of communication? Or the traditional media guy (or girl), emphasizing HR because she does not know how to develop a vision for the agency? Or the buyer? Best friend of tv stations and publishing houses? Or the social media guru 'round the office corner? Who ain't capable of true business thinking?

Obviously they all are not keen to let go of influence, power, and compensation. It is easier to choke change and innovation right from the top. Make some incremental changes and wait for a miracle to happen, while the agency is losing business, image, and strength.

Kevin "hinted there could be another ‘Mad Men’ like golden age for agencies
if they could put the right services together for FMCG firms and guide
them through digital age: “If we had the [ideal agency] I think they
would make a lot of money”
. But not if they stay at the buzzword level of facebook and twitter.

Kevin "said that the digital revolution “is probably as profound as the
advent of television but way more complex” because of that mash of
social networking, search, shopping, video on demand and websites"
. Qed, change of game!