I noticed in last week's Campaign magazine that Jeremy Bullmore neatly summarises the 'micro-network' proposition. Since this is the model represented by us at W+K, I thought I would take the liberty of reproducing his remarks here for the benefit of anyone wondering the same thing as his correspondent.
Q: Can a micro-network of half-a-dozen offices really handle a global account, Jeremy? And, if so, why am I as a client paying for an agency with more than 150 offices?
A: I hadn't realised that agencies these days based their fees on the number of offices they have around the world. Since the very beginning, agency remuneration systems have been bizarre, so I can quite see the attraction of an office-based tariff. At least you can count offices, which is more than you can say for value delivered. But I do wonder if you've got this entirely right?
If your global account is a single brand account, which primarily requires a single, strong, brand-defining presentation rather than a lot of local-nuance translations, adaptations, modifications and exceptions; and if your brand share and competition are more or less the same in all your markets; then I can see no reason why you shouldn't be just as well-served by a micro-network - or even a single unit, come to that. Your own people on the ground, if you have them, should be able to look after everything else.
And if you go from an agency with 150 offices to an agency with just one, it presumably should be quite amazingly cheap?
While I would hesitate to describe Wieden + Kennedy as 'amazingly cheap', I can confirm that there are economies of scale available for clients who don't need or want an agency to service their outposts on a market-by-market basis, and we do this succesfully for clients including Nike, Coca-Cola, Levi's and Lurpak. And there is an additional benefit, which delivers further value for money: it's easier to maintain a consistently high standard of quality of work in a micro-network than it is when spread across 150 offices.