A Conversation with Professor Alvin Silk
We were delighted when we heard via Brand Republic that they had been contacted by the eminent Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, Alvin Silk and that he wanted to chat with us. He had recently read our latest report “Is an in-house agency right for you?” as featured in Brand Republic and was very keen to discuss this most interesting subject matter. Alvin’s research interests include the economics of the advertising and marketing services industry, the development and management of advertising campaigns, and decision support systems in marketing. Most interestingly for us, he has written a number of papers on the subject of In-house agencies so when we made contact and arranged to speak, it was a great thrill.
On the call itself, he shared with us some fantastic insights and observations both around the subject matter of the In-house agency model, but also about other dynamics in the marketplace. His “lens” as an Economist was particularly interesting such that when we concurred that in most cases, the In-house agency was always an “organic” development, he was surprised that so few companies would look at the option of going “in house” in absolute economic benefit terms. It was always a “evolutionary (natural) development” rather than a “revolutionary (economic benefit lead) development”
We further discussed the importance of better working practices amongst all the stakeholders in marketing. I was pleased to hear that he fully advocated the need for systems like ours to support this complex multi-stakeholder environment. I think he particularly liked one of Screendragon’s challenges of “turning Don Draper into a Process Excellence guru” not to mention the dangers of “over-sharing and under-collaboration”. We also discussed the rising development of “outsourced in-house agencies”, similar to the likes of Oliver. Again, we concluded that even in this “closer knit” environment, the need for Project, Process and People management systems was paramount for achieving the much sought after efficiency and efficacy gains that EVERONE wants. We then ended up discussing the need for better Agency Evaluation techniques and methodologies to which we advised him that we had already implemented a system to “hard code” these techniques and methodologies to support the evaluation work of their agency partners at Kellogg and Kimberly Clark.
So thanks again Alvin for your contribution to the debate and looking forward to continuing the discussion in the near future.
To read more of Alvin’s research, please visit his HBS profile page at http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=6555 where his bibliography is listed.