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Trendsetters: It's Time for Agencies to Evolve, says Finland's Eka Ruola, Awarded CEO & CCO of hasan & partners
Eka Ruola is one of the most awarded creative directors in Finland–both on the national and international level. Under his leadership as the CEO and CCO of hasan & partners, the agency has grown to become one of the leading modern marketing communications agencies in the Nordics. In 2014 the company bought renowned digital agency Perfect Fools that operates in Stockholm and Amsterdam.
Eka believes that we are currently living in the Golden Age of Marketing Creativity with rapidly–evolving new channels, innovations and possibilities to reach and effect consumers' emotions and actions. However, he also believes that the biggest threat to the ad agency is a conviction that the business model that has worked for the last few decades will continue to work forever.
He says, “Today's agency should be geared for agility and continuous evolvement, not just for our clients but especially for us.
The future is about teams that can create brilliant content, send it out via all relevant channels and react to feedback within seconds. We have entered the age of conversation, an on-going dialogue between brands and their audiences. That is something fantastic.
It's a new approach that will have a huge impact on both the agency model and the client's marketing organization."
Yet, he recognizes that the new advertising model will likely change from client to client, because the needs of each advertiser are very different. He feels that the typical Agency Of Record retainer relationship will become increasingly rare, and that the budgets for agency work will no longer come solely from the marketing department.
Eka Ruola admits that shifting from distinct campaigns to on-going customer conversations is no easy task for agencies. But, it's not easy for advertisers either, especially when they have to convince top management to invest in untried solutions.
He says, “The data shows that old ‘proven' methods to reach the target groups are increasingly ineffective and that new ways need to be found to make relevant connections between the brands and the consumers." He realizes that most CMOs are aware of this, but getting the rest of the leadership team to believe and invest in something that lacks a track record is tricky as top management will usually want reassurances and numbers to base decisions on.
“The most successful brands and CMOs," according to Eka Ruola, “will be the ones who dare to believe in the opportunities that are evolving in the new media climate and have the guts to walk where no one has tread before."
He adds that when agencies demonstrate how they understand this new dynamic and its effect on a client's business reality, they are then able to provide relevant advice on business-critical decisions. “It's the only way to earn a seat at the boardroom table that so many agencies cherish but so few seem to have real access to. In our original home market of Nordics, we are able to call up almost any CEO and get a meeting. Not to talk about advertising but about growing their business."
Eka Ruola sums up his thinking by saying, “Failure to change would be akin to insisting on living in a castle, because that's what we all did a few hundred years ago."
He asks, “Why would you continue to live in a cold, draughty castle when you could live in a well-insulated house with windows not arrow slits to let the light in, power to keep you warm and the digital connections to keep in touch with the world? That's what failure to evolve looks like."