In New York, Graphic Systems Group is aggressively pursuing the “de-coupling” trend.
“Essentially, now we’ll go into Heinz, or Novartis, or Elizabeth Arden, L’Oreal, Estée Lauder, and so on, and say, ‘You don’t need your advertising agency to do your production. We’ll do it. We are the logistics behind it, and we are the people they’ll use anyway,’” he says. “When we can speak directly with the client about the production aspect of their job and say, ‘We’re not going to mark it up – we’re going to show you the exact costs on this – and we’re going to be transparent, they see the advantage right away.”
Technology is the driver behind this promise of transparency and it’s this very same technology, Madsen says, that is most substantial and compelling to clients. He points to GSG’s client-facing “dashboard” as the best example of how the company has centralized and automated production- and campaign-related data that might previously have been buried deep within a client/agency marketing contract.
“We’ve built an interactive dashboard for clients that aggregates all the activities we do for a client, putting them into a graphical interface so they can get a feel for the metrics and spend and so forth,” he says.
The dashboard tool, according to the GSG website, “Allows clients, in real time, to track the status of work they have underway with us, to better control costs and more crisply execute their marketing activities.” Among the searchable data categories are: revenue impact across all channels, campaign respondents, percentage converted to buyers, marketing efficiency, and so forth. Madsen credits the dashboard with building trust and credibility in his company, while assuring clients in a tangible and measurable way that they can sidestep ad agencies and the subsequent hefty price tag for production services without losing out on anything in the process.
“The client can now tell their agency, ‘Listen, you focus on the creative and the concept and then you’re going to hand that off to my production agency to see it through,’” Madsen explains. “If I can save a client typically from 20 to 60 percent, from de-coupling from an agency, they can’t go back to the old way of doing things.”
It’s been an “interesting ride” for GSG, and Madsen says he is thrilled to see more and more big brands embracing the idea.