Nils Leonard warns agencies lack drive of management consultant challengers

Nils Leonard Grey LondonAlready besieged by data marketers, ad agencies need to look out for the rise of the next generation of competitors, the business consultancy’s such as McKinsey, Nils Leonard has warned.

In Australia last week to deliver the D&AD Presidents Lecture, Leonard told Mumbrella that just as the industry was coming to terms with the blurring of the lines between multiple disciplines all playing in the same space, the emergence of business consultancies on the creative horizon would shake things up again.

Armed with the tools of data and analytics and not burdened with the baggage of a history in the industry, Leonard said the management consultants represented a new breed of competition for agencies.

“If you think about people like McKinsey, they are in a different meeting to us,” said Leonard of their access to the C-suite.

“They are upstairs and those guys are setting up creative labs, those guys are setting up essentially technology think tanks. We should be more worried about that than the pressure of whether we are going to make a radio ad.”

Leonard said he feared that many agencies were too comfortable in their space and lacked the same drive as the management consultants.

“You frame it as problem or a pressure, I’m worried we don’t have enough ambition,” he said.

“McKinsey don’t have a product and they get paid vast sums more than any agency.

“We do need to get literate. I’m not saying I want creatives at nine at night reading business book, but I do think we need to get our heads around what matters to the CEOs of these companies.”

He said he had heard too many creatives lament being in the room with brand directors and not CEOs, saying as soon as you had the ear of the head of the company you could convince them to take the risks necessary to make the company cut through.

Simon Canning


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