With skinny jeans and skinny ties all the rage these days, it appears that ad agencies are going for a slimmer look as well.  A new trend is emerging that shows ad agencies shifting their business model to have fewer employed staff and more strategic partnerships with outsourced talent.

The old agency model focused on having a team-member in-house, on call for every client need.  However, newer agencies are focusing on surrounding core staff with a wide network of strategic partnerships.  Technological advances made throughout the Digital Age have made communication across these networks seamless and efficient.

A recent article by agency trend expert Second Wind, details the shift in agency business structure.   It describes the new agency model as one that builds teams with an emphasis on quality over quantity, putting client success ahead of constructing massive “physical empires.”

Author and Second Wind founder, Tony Mikes, describes the “bulky” agency of the past:

“I remember thinking to myself after I started my own agency, I may be the leader of 40, 50 or even 100 people some day.”  I can remember the sense of pride I had when we hired a production manager, a traffic manager and two account coordinators in the same year. “Bigger is better,” I thought. “We’ve got to have lots of cool office space, a whole slew of creative folks and Pepperidge Farm cookies for all in the kitchen.”

The article goes on to say that by significantly reducing the overhead cost of having unnecessary in-house staff, and utilizing outside partnerships on an as-needed basis, agencies can better protect themselves when business is down.

While it may have been fashionable in the past for ad agencies to pack a little muscle, for the time being, skinny is in.  As economic uncertainty continues to impact business, you can bet that agencies will do whatever they can to keep costs low and client morale high.