Could coronavirus spell the end of the big agency?

Is the ongoing crisis the death knell for major creative agencies, or is this a chance to embrace change and create happier clients and colleagues along the way? Stuart Davis, former COD at M&C Saatchi, explains why this is a now or never moment

There was a time when the UK’s creative industry was dominated by a handful of agencies, who represented the highest echelons of creativity. But in recent years a host of new companies have entered the market and the big names, arguably, don’t hold quite the same cachet they once did.

Perhaps it’s because it’s hard for the often slow-moving machinery of a big agency to keep up with its smaller, more nimble rivals, meaning companies once considered cutting edge have fallen behind. There’s also the sense of a gulf between what clients need and what big agencies are offering.

“Storytelling and craft will always be important, regardless of whether you’re a big agency or not, but the way you get to that story has to evolve, because the client and customers are changing. It’s finding a way of telling that story as well as we can, but in a more efficient way,” says Stuart Davis, a former creative operations director at M&C Saatchi.

Having worked at startups as well as agencies big and small, including Anomaly, WCRS, TBWA and Work Club – and in a range of production, project management and operations roles – Davis believes he has some clear insights into where companies could potentially be going wrong.