I recently made a trip to Europe for a meeting of our agency network. Stone Ward is a part of a AMIN, a network of independent agencies, with 30 agencies in the Americas and 25 in Europe. Every fifth year, we meet “across the pond” in Europe. It is always great to see old friends and meet new ones.
We heard some great case studies of global collaboration among agencies. One of the perceived advantages of the large networks of publicly held ad agencies is the promise of collaboration between sibling agencies that are either geographically distant or possess a specialty expertise. Thus their promise of a global and highly integrated service offering. In many cases however, the promise is empty as sibling agencies vie for subsidiary level profitability and conflicting objectives, in the long run, actually delivering an overly expensive and incongruous body of work for the client.
In the AMIN network, however, it is wonderful to be able to pick up the phone and call an agency principal that is a friend, who also happens to own an agency in Germany, France, Russia or Brazil, then proceed to have a friendly conversation that can ascertain how they can assist your client in their country, bringing their market and cultural expertise to the table. One of our South American agencies recently assisted us with a client in Haiti and was a wonderfully helpful experience.
The agencies of the AMIN network actually do fulfill the promise of allowing its member agencies to deliver a global solution to its clients. We do it with friends all over the world that enjoy being independent but are also passionate about working together to be something much larger than ourselves.
We did take a bit of time off before the meeting and spent some time in Italy. During our travels there, I was delighted to find one of Italy’s most picturesque medieval walled cities, Volterra, paying homage to Stone Ward by proudly displaying our logo as a work of art outside the city walls. I thought that surely this must be some sort of sign, prompting us to open a new office … Stone Ward – Tuscany. I immediately volunteered to staff the new office (and vineyard…).