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Sharon Richey, chief executive of Because, warned that the number of agencies involved in this area of marketing has created a somewhat saturated marketplace.
"The landscape is becoming increasingly competitive with each year that passes," she says. "One of the outcomes of this is that smaller start-ups are offering to do a lot more for free, with brands then coming to expect it more and more. It is creating a set of behaviours client-side that is unsustainable."
Paul Saville, joint managing director of Wasserman Experience, feels there has been a "migration of talent to client-side". "Clients are increasingly looking for the best industry people to take in-house, or even setting up ‘internal agencies’, which ultimately increases the competition agencies are facing, both for talent and for work," he warns.
"Digital, PR and integrated agencies are all beginning to play in the experiential space. That said, the smart traditional experience agencies are also beginning to go the other way, too. Ability to maintain agility and innovation in the current environment is crucial to growth in the future."
Jason Megson, managing director at GPJ, agrees there is an increasing number of players in the market."There has been a notable expansion of expertise and emphasis across a diverse group of marketing and communication agencies, from media to PR and even advertising," he explains.
Megson adds that some are already seeing success and producing good work, while others have struggled as they have approached the discipline from the perspective of their legacy area of expertise. Hence, they’re not able to execute as great an experience, despite the potential of a strong central idea.
Another of the key points made by agencies we spoke to was about the importance of the back-end delivery: it’s all very well having a creative idea, but if the delivery is bad the idea will not be successful.
"Winging it" won't do
"While there are many new players, which is good for the industry overall, experiential is so much more than just thinking and creative ideas, it also needs the back-end work," stresses Richey. "An idea needs to be more than just an idea,it needs to be great when you make it live. You need to apply science to the creativity or you can get it wrong."
Claire Stokes, founder and managing director at Circle Agency, agrees. New and diversified businesses in the marketplace can only be a good thing, she says, but from a creative point of view, "caution is needed with clients who don’t recognise that an agency able to come up with an idea that is experientially conceived does not necessarily have the experience or support necessary to deliver that experience". She adds that experiential isn’t a discipline that you can just ‘wing’.
"You need access to great event production, staffing, health and safety, people who understand how to tweak a concept to make it work in the live space and, finally, a team who ‘get’ how to measure the impact of what you are doing," continues Stokes. "It is also more than just whether an agency has the ability to produce an event – there is a science to what we do. It is all about understanding human behaviour and the cause and effect of various triggers that we build into our campaign activations."
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