Is AOR a Thing of the Past?

Post by 
Five Eighty
January 23, 2020

Jump Ball vs. Full Retainer

While reading an AdAge article about the top 10 agency / brand breakups of 2019, this quote from Greg Paull, the Principal & Co-Founder of R3, jumped out at us:

“Agency of Record has become more of Flavor of the month. Marketers have increasingly moved to jump balls, freedom within a framework and project basis to manage getting the best work. It’s put incredible pressure on longstanding agencies, who have had to merge or adjust their business models to compete.”

The dynamic of our industry has changed. There are many reasons why, but here are two that hit close to home for us:

  1. Brand teams change employees far more often than they used to. No stat needed to back that up, we’ve all lived it.
  2. At the same time agencies continued to dilute their talent pools, one of many mistakes that would prove to have a lasting lack-of-trust ripple effect.

It’s a ‘new’ world that shouldn’t have hit you by surprise. This trend has been very transparent. From January 2018:

So, now what?

Alas, here you are in 2020, having to decide if you’re going to showcase the whole strategy, concept and tactics just to win the business, or draw a line in the sand and risk being judged that you didn’t provide enough. We can say that if you’re up against us, bring everything you’ve got — we’re going for trust, clear expectations and taking all the guess work out of what it would be like to work with us.

Reduce the risk, build trust and let your work speak for itself. Whether you contributed to the problem up until now or not, this is the bed that is made. The Stone’s put it best:

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

2020 marks the fourth consecutive year of the AOR vs. Jump ball resurgence, what has your experience been? How do you feel the infrastructure can evolve further? Do you think more brands will continue to move away from hiring AOR?

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