Wongdoody’s Tracy Wong: We’re living the reality of dying ad agencies

Adapt or die. It’s something most business say they practice but rarely do. An exception is Tracy Wong, the founder of Wongdoody, a 25-year-old creative agency whose acquisition by Indian IT and consulting giant Infosys was announced in April. On this episode, he discusses changing models, being irrelevant, democratic cultures and more. This episode of Making Marketing was originally published on June 7.


The business has evolved.
Nothing in our business is clear and simple anymore. The business has changed around what advertising agencies are asked to do with the emergence of technology, especially in the past five years. The problems that clients are dealing with have changed. Marketing used to be just demand generation.

The role of the CMO has changed too.
Today, a CMO is not dealing with just marketing and advertising. They’re also dealing with issues of digital transformation, the changing media business and transparency. Everything for CMOs is nasty, tangled and complicated. The CMOs are responsible for customer experience and engagement. They’re all connected to technology in some way. Every client is struggling with developing technology to enhance or build customer experience, like apps or tech platforms. That was never on their job description a few years back.

The creative is a function for all departments.
Our first ever creative internal was with account people. The creative department is on the hook for coming up with ideas but everyone is contributing. You can’t do that if you have ego in people. A lot of people in other agencies don’t like this.

Working with Infosys.
How many companies that are agency holding companies are still [agency holding companies]? They’re straight-up consultancies or global tech. The entities that are buying agencies have completely changed. For decades, they were agency holding companies. The board eats your culture, you do it for the money. That wasn’t attractive to us. Infosys has offshore digital creation. They’ve gotten into digital strategy and consulting. This is the world of Deloitte and Accenture. Right next to digital strategy, you have customer and brand experience, which is our territory. We’re the only creative agency in their global portfolio. A really big focus was their model and that we would be the only agency in their portfolio. They said our culture was important, and we didn’t hear that from anywhere else.

Ad agencies are dying.
How many headlines do you see that say ad agency businesses are dying or are dead? We’re living what you’re seeing. It’s legit. [We wanted] to find a strategic partner who will future-proof us, retain our culture and we can help each other in a symbiotic relationship. As we evolve within the Infosys model, we talk to their digital strategists and their vertical leaders. The conversations are different, but the training and democracy is a writer’s room for comedy.


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