Nigel Morris: American agencies resistant to change

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Nigel Morris of the Dentsu Aegis Network argued that U.S. agencies are slow and conservative.
Nigel Morris of the Dentsu Aegis Network argued that U.S. agencies are slow and conservative.

The British Dentsu Aegis Network exec says the huge American market works against agencies. The country is "so huge, if you get it wrong the danger is so big."

NEW YORK — Throwing down the gauntlet to U.S. colleagues, British ad exec Nigel Morris said Wednesday during an Advertising Week panel that American agencies are scared to innovate their businesses in case something goes wrong.

Morris, the Americas and EMEA chief executive of the Dentsu Aegis Network, said change is difficult and conservativism is ingrained here because the country is "so huge, if you get it wrong the danger is so big."

U.S. agencies also face a lengthy lag time between deciding to make changes and the changes being delivered, he said.

"A lot of the innovations, especially in new business models, actually take a bit of time to actually work," Morris said. "And with so much variety, how you give them enough air and oxygen is difficult."

Dana Anderson, recently promoted to chief marketing officer at Mondelez International, described the situation as a "big mucky pond," adding, "Agencies could be so flexible and move so fast, but they don’t."

Anderson said talk of collaboration "is old school." Instead, she said, collation is the way forward. Anderson recommended that companies tie their innovation efforts to the "overall company’s goals" in order to get things done.