Ready together: 3 ways the brand-agency partnership can drive growth in 2021

by Marla Kaplowitz, 4A’s President and CEO 


Google and 4A’s commissioned a study to explore how brands and agencies can work together to accelerate growth in the year ahead. Marla Kaplowitz, president and CEO of 4A’s, shares her thoughts on the findings and implications for the industry.


In 2020, health care, economic, and social crises disrupted all our plans, prompting brands and agencies to recalibrate their relationships. Those that worked together, focusing on resilience and transformation? They not only weathered the storm, but came out stronger.

This past year, I’ve seen agencies achieve tremendous client satisfaction by leaning into areas where brands critically need support. In a world that remains uncertain, there’s a huge opportunity for brands and agencies to partner and prepare for the year ahead.

To explore this evolving dynamic, we partnered with Google on a new study conducted by Forrester Consulting.

To me, the findings are clear. As we enter another fast-paced year, strong brand-agency partnerships will be instrumental to driving growth and preparing for whatever’s next. Here are some of the key ways agencies can become exceptional strategic partners in 2021 and beyond.

Embrace automation

I’ve heard from some agencies that they’re skeptical about automated solutions, but our study shows that brands are increasingly looking for agencies to inform their automation strategy and vision. A staggering 86% of brands say they’re not very effective at leveraging technology to automate aspects of their marketing, and only 1 in 3 have connected automation to growing revenue. Clearly, there’s a lot of potential for agencies to own and become leaders in this space.

Adopting automation can be game-changing for several reasons. For starters, it enhances brand-agency agility to respond to consumer demand in real time, optimizes campaigns, and improves performance — all of which are increasingly critical as behaviors shift and the path to purchase becomes less linear. More importantly, it frees up time and resources for agencies to focus on the strategic, high-value work and data-driven best practices that deliver the greatest value for their partners.

Brands should empower their agencies to codevelop a vision for automation so they can meet consumers in the moment and get ahead of the curve.

Automation isn’t a cost-cutting exercise, but an opportunity for growth. And there’s never been a better time to experiment, test, and learn, for agencies and brands alike. Right now, brands should empower their agencies to codevelop a vision for automation so that together they can meet consumers in the moment and get ahead of the curve.


Read more from 4A’s CEO and President Marla Kaplowitz and download the full research report here