The Surprising Wave of Agency Layoffs — And How to Avoid the Same Fate

If you’re a marketing professional who wasn’t aware of the wave of mid- and senior level layoffs happening across agencies like R/GA and Huge, WPP’s Ogilvy and Grey, and Havas, don’t feel bad. It’s probably because they’re doing it very quietly.

But what’s not so secret is that the agency framework is changing, fueled by shrinking client budgets and a unique shift to scalable project work. So as agencies try to remedy the loss of major clients, they’re seeing just how cost effective, yet high yield they can be — at the cost of some major restructuring.

The good news is that agencies can find ways to address the biggest problems disrupting the evolving marketing landscape. And Assemble has those solutions. We’ve kept a pulse on where the future of creative teams is headed, so we can help your agency become more efficient and effective. Keep reading to find out how.

The Problem: Clients Are Cutting Back

Doing more with less is the theme of 2024. And that’s because clients are facing increased creative output demands, while stuck with shrinking or unchanging budgets. Today, brands are realizing they need tons of assets to create really strong campaigns, but in a volatile landscape, it’s hard for marketers to see what the future will entail, so instead of renewing their agency contracts, they’re switching to short-term, project based commitments.

The Solution:

The only problem with this mentality is only more instability and challenges forecasting for longer-term needs. And if not done correctly, it can also lead to the risk of inefficiencies from a revolving door of partners or contacts. Agencies need to be able to be a complete partner to their clients; one that can deliver in any capacity, while providing their full scope of their needs. By working with a production partner, they can address the gaps in their own offerings without growing their own teams or investments significantly to do it.

The Problem: Compounding Inefficiencies

Speaking of inefficiencies — thanks to these client cutbacks, many agencies are realizing they face a plethora of their own. What may have worked in the past, is only being exposed with increased demand. So as their clients make strategic moves, they’re only more eager to tighten up their processes and optimize their output. But they often don’t know where to start.

The Solution:

Have an experienced production partner. While more assets are the new demand, not all agencies are structured to handle this mass creation. A creative studio will have the technical wherewithal to uncover the inefficiencies in your creative process and eliminate them using the right technology and automations. Whether it’s lack of internal workflows, tedious and repetitive code writing, continuous resizing, etc., these speed bumps are only costing you and your clients money they no longer have the flexibility to spend.

A team like Assemble has actually created our own tools and boilerplate templates that allow us to automate various aspects of the production process to expedite our timelines and reduce our labor needs. We are constantly adding new automations to expedite large-scale banner campaign creation, generating customizable design blocks, and creating easy-to-use email builders that support code snippets generated by keywords — all of which make us faster for our clients without jeopardizing personalization.

The Problem: Workflows are Disconnected

As agencies scale, it’s not uncommon for teams to ‘plug and play’ various aspects of their workflows. When new clients are pouring in and teams are under tight deadlines, these areas are often quick to get the bandaid treatment, offering fast fixes that lead to long-term inefficiencies. You simply can’t automate or streamline a process that isn’t connected to begin with.

The Solution:

Review, analyze, test, redesign. We get it — easier said than done. But that’s why we created a program to help. Assemble’s CreativePulse can help you revamp your workflows by offering a comprehensive approach to diagnose and elevate your entire creative processes — or any individual aspect of it. Pick and choose our services based on your specific needs — anything from in-depth analysis to creative tool implementation or comprehensive optimization. We know everyone is challenged by their budgets this year, so we make it easy to maintain control of our engagement every step of the way and only invest in exactly what you need to improve your process in the long run.

The Problem: Too Many Resources, Not Enough Budget

Holding companies are owning a majority of the recent layoffs. And that’s for a simple reason: Unlike their independent counterparts, these companies have major external stakeholders to answer to, giving them a lot less flexibility in how they go about it. These companies are used to a ‘cost reduction leads to increased margins’ strategy, so they’re cutting their resources. The days of hundred-person creative departments are over, so as clients look for a creative partner, they’re not as interested in a long-term, big-team partnership — but simply a partner that can deliver.

The Solution:

Your agency doesn’t have to have everything in house. That’s very expensive — and frankly, outdated. Your clients are seeking a more flexible, project-based partner, and so should you. As the markets change, constant hiring and layoff cycles only lead to more inconsistencies and a lack of focus on innovation that your clients seek. Flexibility and agility is going to be crucial to brands with shrinking budgets, so that’s what you have to provide. And how you do that is tapping into a creative studio that can efficiently produce high volumes of work without compromising quality or creativity and can optimize your workflows to meet demanding deadlines.

The Problem: Out of Touch Creatives

Many of the financial qualms of agencies today also stem from old school mentality from leadership. It’s no surprise the demand for innovation and fresh ideas are higher than ever, and that means having the knowledge of what’s possible and the talent that can bring it to fruition. Being on top of the latest technology and tools is going to quickly set agencies apart from the pack this year.

The Solution:

If you don’t have this type of arsenal on your internal team, go find it. A lot of creative production partners can deliver on the assets and products you need. But simply taking orders isn’t really a partnership, is it? Agencies need a creative studio that’s not only on top of all the latest technology and tools out there, but understands how they can fit into your process and improve your output. They uncover solutions and make recommendations that you may have never considered. And they have a large network of talent, knowing what skills to look for and how to vet candidates that fit into your work style — making the deliverables higher quality and the process more enjoyable.

If you’re looking for a solution to overcome the unique challenges that come with today’s “do more for less” mentality, contact Assemble to discuss your goals today.