Agencies Are Elitist, Protectionist, Breed Conservatism and Stifle Creativity

Writing in The Guardian, Victors & Spoils CEO John Winsor argues that the agency system has become a closed, shrinking creative system with creative elites that are presiding over a protectionist system that breeds conservatism and stifles creativity. Explaining why that is a bad thing, Winsor writes: "The reality is that we're living in a flat world where everyone from everywhere has the same technology and, with that technology are gaining the same skills to compete with anyone else. You don't become conservative until you have something to conserve. And there are many folks in the AIC that have a lot to protect. Today, why is a 54 year old (my age) creative director or strategist worth 5X more than an up and coming talent in Brazil or Asia? Especially, when they have thousands of followers and viewers on social media platforms. In this new paradigm, shouldn't it be a meritocracy? Shouldn't the best ideas win?" Millennials rejoice?

I remember wandering the exhibit halls in Moscone and Javits during ad:tech and seeing a bunch of scantily clad women attached to one another in a giant foam suit which consisted of three 8's. Those three eights represented UK-based 888 Casino, a category which has long been banned from exhibiting at most trade shows. Well, 888 Casino is now on the hunt for an ad agency to reach not only consumers in the UK but those in the U.S. as well. Are you up for improving upon babes dressed in giant foam 8's? The brand is looking for a "high-visibility activation campaign" using TV, print and outdoor. All of this as various authorities -- CAP, BCAP and the ASA -- re-examine how the gambling industry advertises. 

I could have told you 20 years ago when agencies started unbundling their services that it wouldn't be a good thing -- and that integration or at least multidisciplinary expertise under one roof was a much better approach to marketing than spinning out every new thing like digital, social or content marketing. It's funny to see the shift in the opposite direction take place as if it were a new thing. The "integrated" agency has been around since long before most people working in advertising were out of diapers. And to see them talk about it like it's a cutting-edge thing is amusing. Although not everyone gets it. Ogilvy Chief Digital Officer Brandon Berger gets it -- and of people who question the expertise of an in-house agency digital group, tells India Times: "It's a challenge. The idea of a stand-alone digital agency is a fallacy. There's no need for one. When consumers engage, they are not looking at digital as a different channel. We can't be thinking of traditional and digital but should instead focus on helping clients sell more to more people."

Hmm. If you have anything to do with the Procter & Gamble account, you may want to duck for cover. Greenpeace has launched all out warfare against the brand as well as its agencies. The organization assaulted P&G headquarters in Cincinnati by ziplining between two buildings to hang a banner which read: "Head & Shoulders: Wipes out dandruff & rainforests." And along with parodying P&G's recent Thank You Mom by insinuating the brand's acquisition of palm oil harms orangutans, Greenpeace placed two groups of signs outside the offices of Head & Shoulders agency Saatchi & Saatchi London -- one of which read "Protect Forests" which led away from the building and "Destroy Forests," which led into the building. Cause groups. Do they keep us on our toes or annoy us to death?
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