Well, the ad agency without creatives just might be the future... Even Sir Martin Sorrell says he thinks the industry needs "Math men not Mad Men".
For an ad agency, profits on retainer fees and media commissions are wafer thin. Bigger budgets and fatter profit margins are on production work (print, digital or activation) that are typically done externally by 'specialists'.
Naturally, agency bean-counters will increasingly focus on pushing for expensive external productions, rather than internal creatives. And it'll be the slick salesmen (the "suits") who'll become the 'profit-centres', rather than the creative teams. This will have a knock-on effect on recruitment, incentives, promotions, and retention.
Agencies may end up with a rump creative dept. (a glorified studio set-up) that churns out the relatively 'low value' stuff that keeps retainer-paying clients "happy" -- while increasingly relying on freelancers for big ideas on pitches and big campaigns.
Eventually, ad agencies will turn to Plug 'n' Play Creative specialists. (I'd touched on this possibility in a post in March 2010.)
Ultimately, we must remember that 'creatives' is NOT the ad agency's raison d'etre... Ad agencies began as boring media commission agents -- the enterprising ones merely threw in good copywriting and impactful visualising as a 'value add' or differentiator. The crest of this 'creative is king' wave was Bill Bernbach and the 'Mad Men' era.
Like it or not, that wave is ebbing... simply, because it is no longer the most profitable business model.
It's often called the world's second oldest profession.
But while the scope of the oldest one has changed little over time, the evolution in the way we communicate has had profound impact on Advertising.
In the ancient and medieval world, Advertising meant word-of-mouth. In the 1500s with the development of printing it became a 'paid public notice', disseminating the message to many. And it had Copy & Art.
Then came radio, TV, computer, cable TV, Internet, mobile phones, Internet on mobile, and it's still not done... Even what we perceive as 'change' is changing. Continuously.
So what is Advertising today?
Honestly, I don't know.
But I do know from a dozen years evolving with the business, that Advertising is most valued when it can make a tangible difference for the advertiser.
That has not changed. And probably won't.
UPDATE: Nothing's changed. But in a way, everything has. As you see, my focus has shifted - evolved in a way - to a larger canvas. The shift or evolution was gradual, and may be have been discernable to the more observant reader.
While I was delving into the influence of media in society to better understand how perceptions are created, evolved and disseminated, I chanced upon a thread of knowledge that I frankly never knew existed.
My conclusion is that a deep pool of awareness and consciouness exists beyond the shallow narcissistic boundaries created by the convention view of social media and the Internet.
My aim is to send my readers down any path that can lead to this quenching pool.