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?
Recommend (3) Print RSS
All content published by MediaPost is determined by our editors 100% in the interest of our readers ... independent of advertising, sponsorships or other considerations.
  • 7 Reasons You Shouldn't Work In An Ad Agency

    Well, this is fun. We see so many breathy articles filled with endless platitudes on why you should choose a career in advertising. Well, here's a contrarian viewpoint in the form of a Slideshare presentation. So here we go. 

    The presentation talks about getting lost in translation due to the plethora of simultaneous, mind-numbing projects. Then there's the need to work on unglamorous projects whether you like it or not. Third, there's no credit where credit is due. It can be hard to receive recognition when the account manager, or the executive team, is always taking credit for the sleepless nights that you sacrificed. 

    Fourth, the heavy workload. Too many projects, not enough time, over-promises that cannot be met, clients who are mercilessly demanding. Fifth, less than stellar pay that just doesn't mirror the long hours and gigantic headaches that can accompany life inside an advertising agency. Sixth, obscenely long work hours that while part of a good work ethic can be soul crushing. And seventh, being forced to be creative under pressure and on a schedule. Developing great creative is not easy and doesn't always fit inside a neat timetable. 

    If you work in an agency, you are, no doubt, familiar with each of these 7 points. You are also familiar with the many joys and rewards that come with the job as well. Sure, it's tough work -- but it can be a lot of fun too. 

  • IAB Teams With AOL Chairman Tim Armstrong to Tackle Diversity

    Well, this is cute. Now don't get me wrong. I'm all for diversity in advertising. Except when the industry launches program after program after program and nothing ever changes. Sadly, every diversity-in-advertising effort is just one failure after another. 

    And so pardon me if I don't get all that excited about the latest effort -- a partnership between the Interactive Advertising Bureau and AOL chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong. Together, we now have the IAB Education Foundation, "a new nonprofit organization to increase racial, ethnic, gender, and economic diversity and improve peoples’ skills in the digital media and advertising industries." 

    Armstrong will lead the endeavor as Chairman of the Board. 

    Of the foundation, Armstrong said: “The IAB has a nearly 20-year history of solving the industry's biggest growth challenges and will now focus on perhaps the most overlooked and untapped opportunity – recruiting and growing the talent and skill sets we need in our industry. We need a dedicated organization to focus solely on building a trained and professional workforce that includes all constituencies, many of which have been left behind through much of the digital revolution – minorities, women, the disabled, the economically disadvantaged, and military veterans and their families. Under the leadership of Randall Rothenberg, the IAB Education Foundation will be positioned at the forefront of helping solve this issue that confronts our industry. I couldn’t be more pleased to help lead this effort.”  

    For his part, Rothenberg added, “The IAB is the natural choice to lead these efforts because we know exactly what the digital technology, media and advertising companies are looking for. Our certification programs have, in the space of just a few years, taught and credentialed thousands of experienced sales and ad ops people. Now we will be able to help an even larger number of people from diverse backgrounds obtain similar credentials and qualify for entry-level positions in one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.” 

    The foundation will launch with a cross-country "town hall tour" to listen to various constituencies within the digital advertising and media industry with the aim of gaining insight about how to improve diversity in digital media, marketing and advertising. 

    “We are calling this town hall listening tour ‘Voices United,’ because we want to hear from all constituencies, not just the department heads or top executives,” said Michael Theodore, Vice President, Learning and Development, IAB, and project head of the foundation. “The new curriculum and certification programs can introduce many new faces to our industries, but unless there are transparent paths toward upward mobility, true diversity will remain unrealized.” 

    The foundation’s first partner is the Year Up program, a national nonprofit organization that provides skills training to disadvantaged young adults and places them in Fortune 500 companies. Year Up will work with the IAB Education Foundation to develop an entry-level ad operations training program. 

    I wish them well.


  • Y&R CEO David Sable Named Vice Chair of Ad Council Board

    Y&R Global Chief Executive Officer David Sable was named a vice chair of the Ad Council's Board of Directors at the organization's Executive Committee meeting last week. He will serve alongside Board Chair David Christopher, CMO of AT&T Mobility, and Vice Chair David Kenny, Chairman and CEO of the Weather Company. Sable will serve as Vice Chair through June 2017 at which point he will assume the Board Chair position.

    Of the appointment, Ad Council President and CEO Lisa Sherman said, "David Sable has always been on the vanguard in the advertising community, including as a digital pioneer, and his dedication for giving back is exemplary. He and Y&R have been long-time supporters of the Ad Council, lending talent and time to many critical issues facing our country. We're thrilled he is taking this leadership role on our Board." 

    Sable joined the Ad Council Board of Directors in 2011 and became a member of the Executive Committee in 2013.

    Of joining the Board, Sable said, "I believe that we can help change the world by applying creative, marketing, research, branding, public relations, digital, data -- all the skills and resources that make up our industry -- to the world's problems. No one has done more to advance public service advertising than the Ad Council and I am honored to step into this new role and committed to helping make a difference."

  • Google Marketing Head Was Petrified And Terrified Everyone Would Hate New Google Logo

    It's Advertising Week -- and that's the joyous time of year when it's time to celebrate all things advertising and for everyone who has anything to do with advertising to hop on stage and share their deepest, most inner thoughts about their brands, their clients, their jobs and their work.

    At a session on Wednesday, Droga5's David Droga took the stage with Google Head of Marketing Lorraine Twohill to discuss mobile and the rollout of the new Google logo. While the logo, for the most part, was well received, Twohill shared with the audience there were moments of major fear along the way.

    Of that fear, she said: "When you work on something like that for months, you're just petrified and terrified. Even though a logo feels like a small thing, it's actually a very big deal, because this is a very loved brand. And logo changes don't necessarily always land very well. So we were petrified that the world was just going to universally vomit when we put this thing out there. Thankfully, they didn't. We got a very nice response. We lived through it and survived, but it was stressful."

    Droga, who has worked with Google on several endeavors,  found some humor in that comment and it's apparent adoption as some type of new metric, adding, "I like that that was the benchmark. Did the world vomit or not? Job done." 

    Responding to The New Yorker's apparent hatred of the smiling "e" at the end of the logo, Twohill noted it was Google Doodle head Ryan Germick, who was behind it, saying: "There was a lot of angst internally about changing this logo. Ryan wrote to us and said, 'Could you at the very least tilt the 'e,' so it's smiling?' So, that's Ryan's 'e.' "
  • Content Marketer Says Native Advertising Will Fail

    This is not new but it's worth sharing, given the current focus on ad blockers and the resultant hand-wringing among marketers and agencies renewing their focus on "unblockable" native advertising as if it will save advertising...and the publishers that host that advertising.

    In a piece entitled "Why Native Advertising Won't Survive Regardless of FTC Involvement," the Content Marketing Institute's Kirk Cheyfitz wrote: "Here’s what content marketing has demonstrated so far: Brand storytelling with rich content is powerful because audiences -- the people formerly known merely as 'consumers' -- pay attention to valuable content and reward brand-authors by sharing such content with friends and strangers on social platforms. This social sharing increases impact (by two to four times, studies show) and reach (up to nine times, mathematical models show), reducing media spend and boosting efficiency (by as much as 100 times).

    A story good enough to accomplish all that is actually rendered less effective (from the advertisers’ viewpoint) by appearing to be part of a publisher’s site. Brand-told stories work harder for a brand when they appear on neutral platforms (YouTube, for example) or sites owned by the advertiser.

    Why? A brand must be known as the provider of such content so audiences will see the brand as trusted ally, valued adviser, and inventive entertainer. No sane brand would spend money to create great content only to let some publisher or broadcaster get the credit."

    Is Cheyfitz right? If you attended Content Marketing World or Hubspot's Inbound, both held during the same week early in September, you'd very quickly come to the conclusion that the content marketing space, which is very different than the approach native advertising take, is gaining stride. 

    I'm not sure who first said it, but there's a saying that goes along the lines of "a bad ad in a good medium is better than a good ad in a bad medium." The gist is that it's the surrounding, non-advertising content and the audiences who consume that content that are more important than the ad itself.

    And while content marketing certainly is gaining stride, ask yourself this; is bad content in a good medium better than great content in a bad medium? That right there, unfortunately, is content marketing's biggest challenge; too much crappy clickhole-style content masquerading as informative content.

    Now yes, like everything else in life, content marketing done well can and does work. But it's awful difficult most of the time to pass through the sea of 12 Exotic Foods You Have to Try, Number 5 Will Make You Barf-style headlines to get to the good stuff.

    It's only a matter of time before some enterprising geek develops a clickbait headline blocker.
  • Calculate Your Holiday Revenue With This Handy Calculator From Wpromote

    Are you interested in how your brand will fare this holiday season? Online marketing agency Wpromote is out with its 2015 Holiday Revenue Calculator. It's designed to give you a peek at what you can expect for revenue during the holiday season.

    To get started with the calculator, you are asked to enter your brand's URL and your revenues from Q4 of 2014. You are then asked to rate your marketing activities on a sliding scale from not executed to well executed. Metrics to be graded are Adwords campaigns, dedicated emails, mobile optimization and targeting, content marketing, social CRM, shopping feed optimization, creative refresh and Black Friday/Cyber Monday landing page. 

    You are then magically presented with your score and expected revenue. It's part of the agency's 100 Days of Holidays campaign which includes a whitepaper billed as "The Definitive Online Marketing Roadmap."


  • Martin Sorrell Chides Industry Over 'Snooty Attitude' And Admonishes Brands For Choosing Agencies Based on Cost

    Speaking at H+K Strategies D2 Conference in London, Sir Martin Sorrell made it known he is not happy with what he sees as a prevailing attitude within the industry that creativity resides solely within the walls of creative agencies. It’s an attitude that even permeates his own WPP shops. 

    He told the conference audience: "What I dislike is the snooty attitude that creativity resides in creative agencies" and that he believes three elements -- technology, data and content -- have changed the "nature of creativity."

    He added: "In the last 20 years, the definition of creativity has broadened immeasurably. The big issue is not creativity, but how you adapt it to what else is going on." He made note of creativity emanating from many different areas outside a typical agency creative department.

    Sorrell is also none too pleased that brands continue to treat agencies like "banks and insurance companies" and that brands are increasingly unwilling to take a partnership or investment approach to working with an ad agency. Of this ongoing trend, Sorrell said:"People are choosing agencies on the basis of payment terms and whether they are prepared to insure an indirect level of liability on intellectual property infringement." 

    Pessimistic as that may sound, Sorrell does believe the industry will see a return to the days of true partnership between brands and agencies but noted that successful agencies will look a lot more like WPP's own Team Detroit adding, "Clients don’t care about vertical brands [agencies]. The issue is, how do you make sure the best people are made available to clients? That's the model of the future."
  • Outdoor Advertising Association Wants Agencies to Know Billboards Are Seen By Real People, Not Bots

    Acknowledging that upwards of half -- depending upon whom you ask -- or more online ads are consumed by bots rather than living, breathing human beings, the Outdoor Advertising Association has launched an campaign touting the fact that billboards, unlike current-day online ads, are seen by actual human beings.

    The new campaign, called Feel the Real, carries the headline, "This Ad Is Real." Launched to coincide with Advertising Week, the campaign aims to remind people the medium is alive and well and still working hard for advertisers. 

    Other headlines on posters and kiosks include "You are consuming this advertisement. You are real" and, with a jab at today's online first mentality, "Media planners, do you have a reality problem?"

    Several ads are placed close to ad agencies and are customized specifically for the individual agency. For example, a billboard that appears outside Ogilvy & Mather New York reads, “Hey, Shelly, does this ad feel real to you?” referring, of course, to the agency's Chairman Emeritus Shelly Lazarus.

    Of the campaign, Matt Dowshen, president of PNYC which created the ads, said, “In a world where digital and its ability to deliver what it promises is under significant scrutiny, out-of-home has a unique and compelling point of view that having one foot grounded in the real world matters.”

    The campaign points to a website (ironically meta?) on which viewers are asked the question, "Did you see one of our out-of-home ads?" That's followed by four options, “Yes, I saw it in the real world,” “Yes, I saw it online,” “No, I heard about it,” and “No, I’m a robot.”

    What with the rampant furor over ad blockers making the rounds recently, this particular campaign might actually garner some awareness for the dusty, old outdoor ad medium.

  • Havas BETC Launches Record Label

    Hey -- with the supposed demise of ad agencies and the rampant transformation they are going through to stay alive, why not an ad agency as record label? Wait, what? I thought record labels were tanking too. Anyway. The agency is partnering in the new record label that will come under the Polydor division of Universal.

    Of the move, Havas BETC Co-Founder Remi Babinet said: "A modern ad agency should be able to offer a lot more than just consulting and traditional campaigns; it should be a media, a producer and an audience generator in itself. This will be central for BETC’s development over the coming years." 

    Polydor GM Eric Lelievre added: “The teams at Polydor are constantly reinventing themselves to stay on top of a music industry in transformation. We are very proud to welcome BETC POP and this new pop-themed record label.”



  • Missing Mad Men? Now You Can Hear Don Draper Voicing A Character on SpongeBob SquarePants

    Are you in withdrawal over the end of "Mad Men?" Do you long for your weekly dose of advertising-infused entertainment? Do you dream of Don Draper cooing sweet advertising-themed nothings in your ear at night? Fear not. Don Draper lives on!

    Well, that is Don Draper in the form of Jon Hamm voicing a Don Draper-esque character on Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants. The character will be known as Don Grouper. No, seriously! 

    Grouper, billed as a "charismatic head ad executive" with a "sharp mind and devastating charm," will head up an agency called Grouper, Goby & Koi. Other characters on the show will "lap up his words like overpriced organic honey."

    Alas we will all have to wait until 2016 for the Grouper, Goby & Koi episodes to air.
>> Mediapsssst Archives