Marketers Expect Agencies to ‘Start Leading and Stop Lagging’ Says Report

The report from Dentsu Creative unpacks results from a survey of CMOs in the UK, US, China, India, and Brazil.
Image: Israel Andrade

While clients believe that consumer behavior has changed significantly, the agency model has yet to respond, and there is a “frustration with agency silos.”

This is according to the latest findings from Dentsu Creative’s survey of CMOs in the UK, US, China, India, and Brazil, which provides “a stark insight into what today’s clients need and want most from their agencies,” the company said.

According to Dentsu’s findings, 78% of CMOs feel that the silo-ed agency model is no longer fit for purpose while 82% want to see agencies to combine capabilities to deliver new and innovative solutions, agreeing “I want to see creative solutions across every aspect of my business- Media, Commerce and CXM – just as much as in campaigns.”


“Today’s CMOs are asking agencies to stop lagging behind and start leading again,” said Patricia McDonald, Chief Strategy Officer, Dentsu Creative.

“Our study confirms that today’s CMOs believe in the power of modern creativity to engage a new generation of consumers. They are asking their agency partners to think beyond legacy silos and bring the right talent around the table to deliver ideas big enough to live anywhere, bold enough to chart new executional territory and rich enough to make personal connections with millions of customers around the world.”

When asked what is needed to engage the next generation of consumers, 63% of CMOs say that brands need to create rather than borrow from culture, with the vast majority, at 84%, believing that to connect with younger generations brands now need to “entertain and engage” to earn attention through entertainment properties or rich virtual experiences.

The report added that “most importantly, they believe that connecting the right diverse talent around their challenges, regardless of silos or geographies is the only way to deliver work that will resonate in culture.”


Today’s CMOs agree that in today’s connected world traditional scale is no longer the advantage it once was, the report found, with 85% of clients agreeing there should be a more intelligent way to scale for a sustainable world, while 76% simply want their agencies to connect the right talent around the right brief, regardless of where it sits.

“They are asking their agency partners to think beyond legacy silos and bring the right talent around the table to deliver ideas big enough to live anywhere.”

Diverse creative talent is seen by CMOs as a key enabler of modern creativity, agreeing that differences of thought and background can yield the strongest work, with clients demanding that “agency teams should reflect the diversity of the modern world,” said Dentsu Creative.

It should be noted that the report falls in line with recent shifts at Dentsu itself. In June of this year, Dentsu Creative announced the coming together of its creative agencies under a single banner.

“We all know that the business landscape is rapidly changing and so are the expectations from agencies on how and what we deliver,” said Amit Wadhwa, CEO, Dentsu Creative India.

“It’s extremely essential for all of us to be in tune with the requirements and expectations in this changing environment. With this very objective, the CMO survey was conducted. What really excites me is that the responses augur extremely well for the direction we took when we launched Dentsu Creative based on the philosophy of Modern Creativity. Excited with the way we are moving ahead.”

Key themes from the report:

Dentsu Creative provided a summary of the following eight key themes from the report:


Today’s clients reject artificial divisions and binaries, seeking simple but powerfully integrated solutions to their problems.

73% of marketers agree that the modern comms landscape, and by extension their roles, have become increasingly complex.


Investment in gaming, virtual technologies and social commerce continues as clients believe the online space is where their most meaningful customer interactions take place.

84% agree that an online store should feel as immersive as an offline store.


The big organizing idea is more important than ever but today big ideas must be executed in bold new ways, to connect in personal, contextually relevant ways.
84% agree that Modern Creativity creates culture, it doesn’t just interrupt.


Delivering Modern Creativity means rejecting traditional silos and traditional definitions of scale, using data and technology to nimbly connect the right talent around the right brief.

76% want agencies to connect the right talent around the right brief, wherever it sits in their networks.


CMOs across the globe are investing in content marketing, entertainment and IP as never before, building their own audiences and creating their own properties.

84% of respondents are implementing or have implemented Entertainment platforms and IP as a strategy


To thrive in the modern world, networks must embrace creativity across every touchpoint; content to commerce, media to CXM. Creativity is no longer a vertical or discipline but a horizontal one.

82% want to see creative solutions across media, commerce and CRM, just as much as in campaigns.


CMOs speak with one voice on the vital importance of using their platform for good and the imperative to pivot their business model in response to the climate crisis.

84% agree that real change is only possible through sustained collaboration between businesses, consumers and policy makers.


Designing for the modern world means investing in teams that reflect the modern world. Today’s agencies must embrace difference as the only true way to deliver work that makes a difference.

95% agree that it is a brand’s responsibility to change behavior and change society.

‘The Power of Modern Creativity: Insights for Today and Tomorrow’ report can be viewed here.  

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