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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  • CP+B's Andrew Keller: Failure Isn't So Bad

    In an interview with The Guardian, Crispin Porter + Bogusky CEO Andrew Keller shared his thoughts on failure and how failure can fuel future success.

    When Keller was in college, he intended to become a doctor. That didn't go so well. Of that time in his life. Keller said, “I was at a very small college in a very small town. And having failed, I decided I’d stay in that town for the summer and work as a cook in this restaurant. I wanted to know: how bad was failure? I’d seen my dominant dream, to be a doctor, come crashing down. And it was like, okay -- let’s explore this a little bit.”

    Of the lessons he learned during this supposed failure, Keller added, “I was supposed to be a doctor, so staying in a little town and working in a restaurant -- that was not something that figured in my hopes and dreams. But I did that, and it gave me confidence. Because it wasn’t so bad. Failure isn’t so bad.”

    And even though society and culture view failure as taboo and something to certainly avoid, Keller says we all should resist this line of thinking. Because failure is most certainly going to happen. That's what he tells his kids. He says, "failure is going to happen to all of us. It is going to happen to you.” So embrace it and learn from it.

  • Morals in Advertising: Paleo Blogger Does Voiceover Work For Coca-Cola and KFC

    As proof yet again that morals are nonexistent in advertising, it's been revealed that paleo food blogger  Charlotte Carr has been doing voiceover work for the likes of crap food brands KFC, Coca-Cola and Cadbury's (actually, actual chocolate minus all the added sugar isn't bad for you, according to the Paleo diet). 

    Carr authored the cookbook, Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way for New Mums, Babies and Toddlers, but it was shelved earlier this month by publisher Pan Macmillan Australia after it was reportedly dubbed "potentially deadly for babies" by health experts. Undaunted, co-author Pete Evans, said: "Charlotte, Helen (co-author Helen Padarin) and I are thrilled to announce that "Bubba Yum Yum The Paleo Way” will be a proudly independent digital worldwide release in April with print to follow."

    Carr's talent agency, RML Voices, has confirmed that Carr has be doing voiceover work for seven years. She also does voiceover work for CVHerry Ripe, a chocolate and cherry concoction from Cadbury.
  • Minneapolis Agency Periscope Reaping Benefits of Twitter's Periscope Launch

    Unless you've been living under the proverbial rock, you've certainly heard about Twitter’s launch of Periscope, a live-streaming app that aims to supplant the other recently launched live-streaming app, Meerkat.

    For the past week, the agency has had thousands of people tweet at its @Periscope Twitter handle which it has had since 2009. You see, most don't realize that the Twitter handle of Twitter-owned Periscope is @PersicopeCo, not @Periscope. Even tech journalist Walt Mossberg mistakenly used @Periscope when mentioning the launch.

    Of the sure to be continuous mix up, Periscope (the agency) Brand Manager Bridget Jewell said: "It's been every social media person's dream. Like a kid waking up on Christmas morning, but with tons of Twitter notifications." 

    Of course, all of this unwarranted attention will most assuredly become bothersome and downright annoying very soon. It's sort of like asking people to tweet @FordCo when trying to reach Ford Motor Company.
  • Mad Men Opening Credit Bench Turned Into Actual Bench

    From now until the end of summer, those passing by the Time-Life building, home to the "Mad Men" fictional SC&P agency, will have the chance to sit on a bench crafted to look just like the bench in the opening credits of "Mad Men."

    The 12-foot bench was designed by Pentagram and consists of just two pieces -- a half-inch thick rolled steel plate seat and a 10-foot cast-concrete base. 

    So if you've got a hankering to sidle up to Don Draper (or whomever that silhouette turns out to be) then now's your chance.

  • That Agency That Just Launched A New Web Site Has Now Done Something Newsworthy

    The Brandon Agency -- which, ahem, just launched a new Web site, has just done something a bit more newsworthy. On Friday, March 20, the agency closed its Charleston office so that employees could take the day to volunteer for Operation Home, a non-profit that helps people remain in their homes by increasing home safety and accessibility.

    The agency’s staff spent the day in Hollywood, S.C., with Operation Home building a wheelchair ramp to enable an area resident to get in and out of their home safely. The result was a 29-foot wheelchair ramp to provide easy access for the homeowner.

    Of the effort, The Brandon Agency VP Media Director Shelby Greene said: “As a business organization, The Brandon Agency believes that we have a responsibility to serve others and give back in our surrounding communities. It’s wonderful to be a part of an agency that sees the importance of serving those in need and encourages us to take the time to do just that as a team. We believe Operation Home serves a valuable purpose and we are thrilled to jump on board with them.”

    Yes, that's much, much better that touting the launch of a new Web site.
  • This Ad Agency Now Makes Its Client's Hamburgers

    In the continuing shift away from the actual duties of, you know, creating advertising, 72andSunny has created a new spicy burger for Carl's Jr. The agency came up with the burger concept, named it and designed the packaging -- but they also developed the burger's ingredients. 

    Of the involvement, 72andSunny CCO Glenn Cole said: “We don’t look at our job as being an ad agency or marketing agency. We see our job as being an accelerator of business.”

    An accelerator of business. Well, it's good to know that an agency now thinks that creating advertising to help sell a product is now so boring that they would rather create the product as well. Of course, there's nothing really wrong with that. After all, advertising people are creative. So why not help develop creative food?
  • 11 Pieces of Career Advice From Mad Men's Peggy Olson

    In an LA Times Entertainment piece, you can find 11 pieces of career advice for women that are based on the Peggy Olson character from Mad Men. And we all know Peggy, who rose from obscurity to full on executive fame over the course of the series, has learned a lot and has much to share.

    Advice ranges from not relying on your femininity to get ahead to demanding appropriate work space to taking power when it comes your way to maintaining a professional relationship even when there is a lot of personal baggage to never fall in love with your married boss.

    Peggy's been through a lot. She's grown professionally and personally. And she's become wise with advice to share. We'll see her a few more times as Mad Men makes its final run this Spring.

  • Yannick Bollore Is Perfectly Happy Havas Isn't Huge

    In the advertising holding company world, which is run exclusively by men, and in the regular world which, some would argue, is still run by men, there is and always has been a fixation with size. And size in the sense that bigger is always better. That line of thinking runs rampant from the boardroom to the bedroom. 

    But not everyone thinks bigger is better and while "being huge" is good if you're in a porn flick, that's not always the case in business. Havas CEO Yannick Bollore has no desire to be the biggest holding company. In fact, he thinks Havas is perfectly sized. He says, "Havas has the ideal scale. We are the fittest group in the industry today and our size is the key to our current success." 

    And on his competitor's fixation with swelling to ever larger girth, Bollore adds, "It'll just make us slower. I do not want to be the biggest. This obsession is nonsense, and for what?" 

    What's that saying? "It's not the size that matter. It's how you use it."

    So take that Sorrell and Levy. Bigger is not always better. Especially when you're trying to hook up with...um...a smaller brand.
  • Mad Men's Jon Hamm Just Completed 30 Days of Alcohol Rehab

    Well -- this is sad, but it has a happy ending. Mad Men star Jon Hamm recently completed 30-day stint at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut for alcohol addiction. One could joke about that mirroring his Mad Men character, Don Draper, but I'll leave that one alone.

    In a statement made by Hamm's publicist, Annett Wolf, Hamm has strong support from his girlfriend, actress Jennifer Westfeldt. Hamm checked into Silver Hill at the end of February.

    Hamm will make his final appearances as Don Draper as the remaining episodes of the last season of Mad Men kick off April 5.
  • Like A Car Dealer Screaming 'Come On Down!' This Agency Has Announced 'Limited Time Discounts'

    If there were anything an ad agency could do to further remove itself from trusted business partner and thrust itself ever deeper into insignificant vendor hell, it would be to actually put out a press release touting the fact that it's offering "a limited time promotion on all media packages."

    The release adds: "SEO SEM, infographics, animations, responsive websites, copywriting and PPC management are also included in this sales event."

    And in a supremely dumbed-down explanation of marketing that treats its audience like uninformed children, the release continues: "Advertising can be incredibly complex. Fortunately agency’s consultants can help streamline and simplify marketing efforts. A single campaign has many components, all of which must work together successfully for the plan to succeed."

    So if you need to be schooled on advertising or need "up to a 10% discount" on your next campaign, give a shout out to Eye to Ad Media  (http://www.eyetoad.com/) whose URL, oddly, spells "eye toad" -- bringing up an entirely different image than that of a professional ad agency.
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