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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  • This Director Of Earned Media Wants To Be Ace Ventura Pet Detective

    While every morning she's grateful her clients haven't become part of some social media disaster and Twitter is her go to outlet for news, Huge (no, she isn't huge -- that's the name of the agency) Director of Earned Media Alyssa Galella says that if she weren't working at Huge, she'd love to be "a detective. Or work in an animal shelter. I would basically be Ace Ventura, Pet Detective."

    That's an interesting goal for a woman who was recently named one of PR Week's Innovation 50 or who accomplished a killer social media stunt by sending 99 boxes of Cap'N Crunch cereal to Jay-Z who later mentioned the stunt on the radio. Of course, yes -- she's just kidding, but Ace Ventura who certainly was a character. And I like people who aspire to be interesting characters.

    But what's most interesting about Galella, who is far from being an old timer, is her wise view of social media today. She says, "There's no longer a dividing line between 'media' and 'social media.' You need to be fluent in both traditional media relations and social media to do your job most effectively. Most of what I've learned hasn't been on the clock, either -- take the initiative to read a ton, be active on social media, attend events, and take classes you're interested in." You know -- become educated in the ways of life. 

    Thank God. Someone who doesn't think Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are the only valid forms of media in existence.

  • Havas CEO Yannick Bollore Keynote At MIPTV To Explore Shifting Tides of TV In The Digital Age

    So MIPTV -- a conference that takes place in Cannes and explores the production and distribution of TV, film and digital content -- is right around the corner. It's not Cannes Lions and it's not necessarily an ad conference, but as TV proper continues to die and "content" reigns supreme, the world of content production and advertising continue to blur.

    Havas CEO Yannick Bollore will deliver a keynote entitled "Content Redefined" on Tuesday, April 14 at 12:10 p.m. in the Grand Auditorium of the Palais des Festivals. Bollore will explore the future of TV, but since everyone thinks TV is dead, he will really be exploring the shifting tides of content and the future of media and entertainment.

    Of his keynote and content, Bollore said: “The market is at a turning point. On the one hand, some business models in the industry are being seriously disrupted and more will follow. But on the other hand, consumers have never been thirstier for content than today. It is a great time to be a storyteller."
  • Tumblr Site Says 'Phuck You' to Photography Reps

    If you're on the creative side of the ad agency business, you are quite familiar with the barrage of emails from photo reps that land in your inbox on a daily basis. In fact one agency claims its art directors receive over 100 emails each and every day from photo reps. And it was this little data point that sparked action.

    Enter Phuck You Photo Reps, a Tumblr site designed to shame photo reps out of art directors' inboxes once and for all. The site is a collection of emails from photo reps and everyone is encouraged to contribute the emails they have received. 

    The site is a collection of what you'd expect, fluffy puffy emails pontificating about the balance of light and the magic of some Joe Photographer. Check out the insanity and contribute your own. 
  • Lowe Lintas India Wins Warc 100 Agency Ranking

    The Warc 100, an annual list of the best agencies based on an analysis of winning campaigns across 87 different award events or competitions, has named Lowe Lintas India the number one agency on its 2015 list. The agency scored 213 points and was closely followed by AMV BBDO with 191 and Colenso BBDO with 148.

    Of the recognition, Lowe Lintas India CEO Joseph George said: "We have had a terrific run on creative effectiveness this year across the globe; and all the accolades have further reinforced our belief in the type of work we want to do and believe in."

    Chicago's Starcom MediaVest Group Chicago was named top media agency, followed by PHD Mumbai. 360i New York was named top digital agency with R/GA New York taking second place.

    The Warc 100 is a ranking of top marketing campaigns and companies that the organization says is based on their performance in effectiveness and strategy competitions. The organization does not disclose the competitions that it uses to devise the ranking.

  • This Ad Contest Could Get You A Free Trip to Cannes. Just Don't Tell Your Boss

    Here's a semi-hilarious promotion for Canada's National Advertising Challenge that brings to light an all too prevalent problem in the ad industry -- an overzealous focus on awards. But the promotion promotes just that -- an overzealous focus on awards, and in this case, awards for non-client ads developed simply to win those awards.

    Yes, this is what you brands are paying for. Because you know the creatives in the agency you've hired are going to be doing this work in the office, conceivably on your dime. But, hey, when you dangle the chance to win a trip to Cannes as the prize for this contest, you're going to have creative salivating like dogs in heat.

    Of the Challenge, NAC Marketing and Communications Manager Ellie Metrick said: "We have big aspirations for the NAC, but we were facing a serious comprehension issue within the creative community. This year's online video goes a long way in explaining that we offer creatives an opportunity to do original work in exchange for a chance to go to Cannes."

    But because I know all you creatives are just jonesing for this, the briefs go live March 2 and the work must be completed by March 30.
  • Havas Chicago Ignores Disastrous Effects of Open Office Space, Spends $10 Million Creating One

    Clearly Havas Chicago hasn't been paying attention to recent research that found open office space to be decidedly less productive than that of the old school office. The agency recently completed a $10 million renovation of its 81,000-square-foot River North office space transforming two floors of office space into a wide open, unproductive free-for-all.

    And get this. The agency used to occupy three floors. Now it occupies two. They say that's because the new office design uses space more efficiently. Translated into English, that means stuffing the same amount of bodies into a smaller space to save money.

    The new design has done away with all offices and added all the usual distracting crap you'd expect to see in an advertising agency: graffiti, a soda fountain and a bubble hockey table. They've even added bicycle racks and a "town hall" meeting area with bleachers. Oh, and they've given the new space a cute new name; Havas Village. Because yeah -- it takes a village to raise children and, well, that's pretty much what ad agency people are; spoiled little brats who prefer a playpen instead of an office in which to "work."

    Okay, that's harsh, but I can say that because I've been there. 

    Of the new space, Havas Chicago CEO Paul Marobella said: "The big part of this space, outside of how cool it is, is that it's really built for utility and built for a purpose. Creative, media, strategy and account all sit together, organized by account. What's different about us is we can make a decision on Monday and it will be implemented by Friday."

    Oh, really? How is making a decision on Monday and implementing it on Friday any different than any other agency that decides to do that?
  • Ad Man Offers Advice to Adults In Agencies Who Act Like Children

    It's really kind of strange -- and, well, depressing -- that actual adults with actual jobs in actual ad agencies that are actual businesses that, you know, are run by actual adults actually need advice like this, but apparently this is the case.

    Penning a piece for The Chattanoogan (what the hell kind of name for a news outlet is that?), Connect Marketing Head Honcho Clint Powell has some advice that really shouldn't be the kind of advice that actual adults need. Kids, maybe, but actual adults? No. In any event, he wrote the piece and if you've worked in the ad business for any length of time, you know full well there are, unfortunately, plenty of people who need this advice.

    His advice? Knowing when to say things clearly and in a way that doesn't waste other people's time nor make you end up looking like a fool. He offers up four things that are perfectly okay to say but for some reason, people are too scared to say them. They are "I am sorry," "I can not do that," "I don't know" and "Let's be clear." You can read his whole article for the details but, seriously, you really shouldn't have to. 

  • Jordan Zimmerman's Muscles Win Him Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Accounts

    Have you seen Jordan Zimmerman's biceps? The man is ripped. Ripped, I tell you! And here I struggle to do 5 sets of clean and jerks at 85 pounds in CrossFit class! Now, whether or not Zimmerman's muscles had anything to do with the fact that he just snagged an interesting assignment -- without a pitch -- from muscle magazine-heavy publisher American Media is unclear. What is clear is that the win would appear to be a perfect match for the agency.

    Zimmerman's agency, Zimmerman Advertising, won't be doing ads for the magazines, though. The agency will work with American Media to explore partnerships with other entities such as the National Basketball Association All-Star event AMI sponsored with Macy's a couple weeks ago. 

    The agency will take a close look at events like this and others to determine appropriate fits that match well with AMI titles which include Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, and Flex as well as National Enquirer, Star and OK. 

    Of selecting Zimmerman, American Media CEO David Pecker said he sought and agency that "reflects the aggressive growth strategy of AMI and has a proven track record of driving growth in multiple sectors and is a true strategic partner."
  • Toronto Agency john st. Hires Guy With Same (Almost) Name

    Toronto-based agency john st. has made an interesting hire. Hoping to beef up their digital services, the agency has brought in "an accomplished entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience building global digital media and consumer internet businesses from concept through to final acquisition."

    So who did the agency hire? The guy's name is Tom St. John. Yeah. No kidding. john st. hired St. John. Like, when does that ever happen? 

    Of joining the agency, St. John says, “I feel that john st. has done some of the most innovative digital work in the country for some time now, but I believe that there is room for them to lead the broader digital discussion with clients. Analytics, social ROI, branded content, mobile advertising, online video -- these are just some of the challenges our clients are facing, and we can help them maximize those opportunities.”

  • Is Your Creative Director A Douchebag? You'll Know After They Take This Test

    Ah, you've got to love one thing about the ad business. As self-centered and as egotistical as many in it can be (hey, I know, I worked in it), it's also refreshingly awesome to witness just how much those in the business like to make fun of themselves. 

    It seems like every award show promo and witty little agency puff piece wallows in the schadenfreude of skewering every element of the ad world. Just last week, we were revisited by "Who Said It? Kanye West or Your Creative Director." Now we've got the Creative Director Douchbag Detector Device, a "state-of-the-art-futuristic-hi-tek-gismo that will calculate the potential DBAG risk of that overly paid Creative Leader."

    Here's how to use the device: "Adjust the dials and toggle the knobs to the exact specifications you are looking for in said Creative Leader and….Beep! Boop! Beep! DING! You will know with 99.997% accuracy whether the Creative Leader you want to hire has real potential… to be a complete Dill Weed.”

    I'm sure they meant to say something far more derogatory than "dill weed."
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