Centralized or Decentralized? Consolidated or Unconsolidated? If you ask any sourcing professional the best route in organizing their company’s supply base and achieving cost savings, the most common response to these two questions is centralize and consolidate…as much as possible. But if you ask the question: “Coupled or Decoupled?”, these terms may not be all too familiar to a sourcing professional, unless they oversee the marketing spend category.

Most of the time, centralizing your supply base and consolidating wherever possible delivers the most benefits for your organization in the form of cost reduction and easier supplier relationship management. However, this approach might not make sense for certain spend categories you find yourself managing and there may be other objectives you need to keep in mind. If you are responsible for overseeing the marketing spend category, you may be asked by your stakeholders to decouple an agency relationship or two or at least explore the option given some recent trends in the industry. Well, what does decoupling mean exactly? And why would this approach make sense?

Decoupling is when an advertiser chooses to separate the production of a creative concept or idea from the actual development of the idea (and strategy behind it). The term can also apply when you are referring to the separation of media buying from creative. Traditionally, agencies have been viewed as a one-stop shop for developing and executing marketing campaigns, meaning they are responsible for the development of ideas, bringing these ideas to life through production (e.g. print, broadcast, digital), and then sharing these ideas with the end consumer through media platforms. Some traditional agencies are now only being asked to come up with the core idea and then this deliverable is passed off to production agencies, bringing rise to production houses focused strictly on one thing – you guessed it, production; and since this is their one and only core competency, they are able to deliver faster turnarounds, lower costs, strong expertise and reliability.

There is an ongoing debate about decoupling and whether or not it is the right strategy to employ. Decoupling may not make sense for every advertiser, and in fact, many still argue that media and creative should not be separated, which is a very common practice these days. Others say that the strategy makes sense, but only for digital media and digital creative projects. The reality is, the optimal solution depends on a company’s overarching marketing strategy and internal resources. Typically, if there is a great deal of production work required for certain marketing tactics within your brand’s campaign, decoupling may be a good sourcing strategy to consider. If the scope of a project is small, a single agency may be able to deliver and deliver effectively on every core competency needed to run a comprehensive campaign from start to finish. The decision to decouple depends on the makeup of your current agency network and how well they support your brand. Sometimes it does not make sense to disrupt the current state if relationships are healthy and ROI is high.

The topic of decoupling deserves its own blog series, so this post is the first of a few. In this series, we will be discussing all things “decoupling”, covering the following:

  • Historical and recent trends as they relate to decoupling services, specifically media and production, answering the question: How did decoupling originate as a strategy?
  • The advantages and disadvantages that the decoupling of agency services can have on your brand; key considerations before getting underway with this type of sourcing strategy
  • Scenarios where decoupling makes the most sense and which categories fit the model well; we’ll also call out some key players to consider that have sparked this trend
In our next post, we’ll provide some additional context around decoupling and why it is a topic that is growing in popularity.
Share To:

Kathleen Jordan

Post A Comment:

0 comments so far,add yours