How to Manage The Multi-Agency Model

Many clients are moving away from the traditional “Agency of Record” model in favor of a project-based model, where the client hires agencies on an as-needed basis to solve specific marketing problems. We want to help you understand how to manage this multi-agency structure.

As a company that is focused on connecting brands with niche or specialist agencies, we’re the first to admit that this model requires some clarification Marketers ask us questions like: “If a client has multiple agencies, who corrals them?” or “Who ‘owns’ the brand idea, and whose neck does the client choke when things go wrong?”

This does not have to be all-or-nothing approach to your marketing partners, which would require you to abandon your AOR relationships. We understand that the learning curve is steep and constantly switching partners can cause delays or problems with brand constancy.

We foresee clients moving toward a lead agency model where AORs continue to be the primary brand steward, leading and collaborating with specialists. We’re seeing this model work very well with large consumer brands – their AORs stay connected to the strategy, and aren’t threatened by specialist agencies handling specific execution within that strategy.  

For those that are abandoning the AOR model altogether, leveraging several specialist agencies means designating a manager for multiple agency relationships. This person is the final arbiter of the brand’s strategy and creative work. Michael Gass said it best in this blog post, "Your role is like a symphony conductor. Your primary duty is to unify the performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and help shape the outcomes."

Making the multi-agency model work is, of course, a two-way street, and we can only expect this model to work if agencies are willing to collaborate.