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‘Agency of the Future’ suffered from yesterday’s failings

April 14, 2009

In December 2007, when Enfatico/da Vinci was launched to become a one-client, 1000-strong marketing firm to support Dell, it was described by WPP as the ‘Agency of the Future.’

The response in the industry ranged from ‘brilliant’ to ‘bloody madness!’ Well, the results are in and the latter lot are doing the “I told you so” jiggy dance – as of today, the grand experiment is being folded into Y&R.

Enfatico_logo_600x600 When it was launched, I was intrigued. This blog is called digital consortium because I believe that creating nimble, flexible consortiums of specialists in each area to tackle big marketing challenges just makes obvious sense.

I understand the theory that engaging a major marketing conglomerate as a 360-degree shop leads to a more integrated approach and delivers economies of scale (go you good procurement things!) etc etc etc, but I just haven’t seen or heard anyone tell me that they’ve got a better results from hiring a WPP, Omincom, Publicis, IPG etc across-the-board. I often doubt I ever will.

Given my belief, the concept of a consortium from within a conglomerate was well worth keeping an eye on. Well, from what I understand from people on the ground, it wasn’t necessarily just the tough stretch that Dell is going through that led to this failure, Enfatico also struggled to get traction with its sister companies.

Asia was the region where Enfatico had the largest holes to fill. Luckily WPP is the 800-pound gorilla in Asia’s marketing industry – much-awarded and excellent at much of what it does. A good fit you would think? Well, from what I understand the group P&L structure led to tough situations where individual divisions within specific geographies would not prioritize or even turn down Enfatico/Dell work because local margins were not there.

Fair enough you might say, but where was the regionalized/global view to ensure that the best of the organization was stepping in when Enfatico could not deliver itself. Interestingly, in those situations where the mother-ship could not play, some of the best local firms and talent would eagerly snap up the opportunity. I also understand it was also a challenge to get internal people to move to Enfatico, because of the desire to work on a broader range of clients. Don’t get me wrong, the people I know at Enfatico are smart and dedicated – but while Enfatico as an organization managed to remove the silos, it seems like it was hard to build a workable consortium, culture and cross-brand camaraderie within the walled garden.

I’m eager to compare this with Intel’s move toward ‘open sourcing’ – where at its broadest level the best partners are sourced on merit for specific projects, with Intel playing the role of team lead. Both approaches are about building consortiums, but in fundamentally different ways. I also know which approach my money is on for long term success.

So, it’s cheerio Enfatico (it is UK-based…) – I’m sure we’ll see your like again, but without a different machine and mandate I don’t expect to see a different result.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 15, 2009 7:30 AM

    Nice post dude. Love the new clean look too.

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