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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  • Agency Creates 'Promposal' For High School Student

    Back in the day, asking a date to the prom was pretty basic. You walked up to the girl and you asked. Or you called her. Today, like everything else in life, it's a bigger deal. Everything about prom is a bigger deal. Bigger dresses. Bigger parties. Bigger limos. And, yes, bigger prom proposals or promposals.

    Last month, Jed Renfroe, who owns Renfroe Outdoor was asked by his son if he could use one of the company's digital billboards to post his proposal. Renfroe turned to Watchfire Design creative Spencer Gross who worked up a design which was then added to the rotation of one of Renfroe's digital billboards. 

    All of which makes one wonder, as overblown as proms (and weddings) have become, it this billboard thing just another element that steals away the magic and emotion and replaces it with staged pomp and circumstance?

  • Advocacy Group Urges Cannes Lions Officials to Host Festival Four Times A Year

    OK, this is hilarious. The Indian Confederation of NGOs (iCONGO) created a video entitled "A Video Appeal to Cannes Lions Jury Members." In the video, we hear about all the wonderful things that occur during a three month period leading up to Cannes Lions. Creative ideas help the homeless find shelter, the hungry get fed, the jobless get jobs.

    We then realize the only reason these good deeds are occurring is because art directors and copywriters the world over are doing all they can not so much to do social good, but rather to win a Lion for the work they did that resulted in the social good. 

    And so the video concludes with the logic that if the three months leading up to Cannes in June can do so much for so many, it would make perfect sense for Cannes Lions to occur four times a year instead of just once. 

    A lengthy letter addressed to Cannes Lion CEO Terry Savage which accompanies the video on YouTube reads, in part, "It’s 3 months of pure, unadulterated, cockle-warming service to humankind.

    But therein lies the problem: Why should the good work stop after the Awards are given out in June? Why should the world be a happier place for just 3 months every year?

    We spoke to many underprivileged beneficiaries and understood their obvious disappointment at the abrupt discontinuation of many wonderful initiatives, shortly after the ideas win a Lion. Or soon after they don’t win one, for that matter. 

    As head of the world’s pre-eminent creative awards festival, you can easily change that. We believe there’s a simple way to ensure many wonderful ideas impact lives positively for not just 3 odd months, but throughout the year."

    The video's true plea, of course, is that social good should be a priority year round.

    The video's creator, iCONGO Founder Jeroninio Almeida, said, “Every year we get calls from people that ‘we want to do this public service campaign with you.’ And I’d think, ‘Why do these calls only start around March or April?' So I wanted to bring this issue to the fore in a light-hearted manner.”

    No one from Cannes Lions has responded.
  • Creatives Without Borders Bolsters Nepal Aid Effort With Social Media-Based Outreach

    Creatives Without Borders, a nonprofit organization that aims to better the lives of underserved individuals and communities by connecting creatives and doers, has launched a program to show support and bring aid to those in need in Nepal.

    In addition to providing food and other aid, Creatives Without Borders is encouraging people to send photos, videos and letters to show support for those who have and are still suffering from the earthquake in Nepal. The images will be projected on a large screen on Wednesday, May 6 at 8 p.m. at Naya Bazar in Kathmandu and be accompanied with live music. 

    Reports about what has been done and is being done in the country will also be showcased to help locals to understand what efforts are being exercised across the country. 

    You can show your support for the effort by sending your images, videos and letters to cwbnepal@gmail.com or by using #cwbnepal when posting to social media.

  • Wongdoody Introduces Tuition Scholarship For Women

    Seattle-based Wongdoody has introduced a Women in Advertising Scholarship, a fund that will award $5,000 tuition twice each year to women pursuing creative careers in advertising. The scholarship will be awarded once in the summer and once in the winter, to women who are currently enrolled in undergraduate or portfolio school.

    The scholarship aims to "empower promising candidates to further their education as they work toward an advertising career."

    Of the scholarship, Wongdoody Executive Creative Director Pam Fujimoto said: “Women are a huge part of Wongdoody's culture and success, and we’ve always worked to bring diversity to our creative process because it brings a wider, more relevant range of thinking. But we know our industry as a whole has room for improvement. This scholarship is meant to help promising female creatives move closer to a career, to help bring a bit more balance to advertising.”

    With regard to female representation within Wongdoody, 54% of the staff are female and women comprise 43% of the executive team and 35% of the creative team.

    Wongdoody is accepting applications for the Women in Advertising scholarship now through June 15. You can find out more information and apply here.
  • What In The World Will We Do After 'Mad Men'?

    In two weeks, Mad Men will conclude. Shortly thereafter, all the Mad Men references every journalist and person working in advertising has been using over the past 7 years will begin to subside. What, pray tell, will we all latch onto after that? And just how is this series going to end?

    Will Don Draper/Richard “Dick” Whitman disappear into the Midwest sunset? Will he jump out of an airplane D.B Cooper-style? Will he jump out of that loose window in his McCann office? Will he find and shack up with waitress Diana? Will he start a new ad agency with Joan? Or will "he" wake up Bob Newhart-style in that foxhole in Korea as the real Don Draper who proclaims to Richard Whitman (Jon Hamm), "You will never believe the dream I had about you!"

    How will the ad industry go on without constant comparison to Mad Men? Will we have to stop comparing the 60's to the 10's? What will Barbara Lippert write about? What will happen to all those faux Mad Men accounts? Will we have to go back to riffing on the idiocy of Donny Deutsch, who will soon be seen in a new USA comedy series? Oh God, please, no! Will the Richard Whitman who writes this column have to out himself?

    These are the burning questions that we must deal with over the coming weeks as we all search for another metaphor to use in our next new business pitch, concepting session or industry boondoggle.
  • Eddie Bauer Taps Former Y&R, Leo Burnett, Saatchi Exec As Creative Director

    The Bellevue, Washington-based clothier Eddie Bauer has hired Jose Cabaco as its new vice president and brand creative director. Previously global creative director at Nike's Center of Design Excellency, Cabaco has a long history of agency work at shops such as Young & Rubicam, Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, Grey, Wieden+Kennedy and Euro RSCG. He also ran his own agency called Home.

    Of the hire, Eddie Bauer CEO Mike Egeck said: “We are very excited to welcome Jose to Eddie Bauer. Jose has a proven track record of being able to develop emotionally compelling brand stories that inspire consumers. His talents will be vital as we continue to amplify our voice within the active outdoor community.”

  • Design Firm Debuts New Web Site...And 'Synergetic' Global Mindset

    I know, I know -- poking fun at an ad agency launching a Web site is so 1999 -- but the vim and vigor these agencies display while doing so is just so ripe for ribbing. So who's the latest Web site relaunch victim? Ventura, California-based SoCal Design.

    The agency, which focuses on clients in the fitness, healthcare, beauty and real estate segments, has not only relaunched its Web site but it's also adopted a seemingly more global viewpoint. 

    Of the repositioning, SoCal Design Partner Brett Hurle said: "The relaunch of our site is really a culmination of something we have been building for years here at SoCal Design. I believe the foundation of this agency's success is our ability to bring together synergetic teams from our global talent pool. We believe that every project is unique, and creating truly unparalleled teams enables us to provide our clients the best possible craftsmanship." 

    Yikes. Synergetic? Is it 1988?
  • Horizon Media Launches 'Dunes of Dreams' Employee Innovation Program

    Horizon Media has announced Dunes of Dreams, the agency's new "invention development program." The program invites employees to submit their best ideas or inventions that, if chosen, will see the light of day. The program is part of the agency's INVENT@horizon initiative which is run by Chief Invention Officer Taylor Valentine. 

    INVENT@horizon was launched in 2014 and acts as a launch pad to inspire invention across the agency. The invention team is responsible for pioneering product development and new forms of media, hopefully arriving at better ways to solve client problems and new ways to recruit and motivate employees. The agency's most recent invention is a roadmap for mood-based audio planning.

    Of the program, Valentine said: "Technology and the lightning speed of change across industries creates an opportunity to invent more and better than ever before. The Dunes of Dreams program will provide every employee the opportunity to invent, making invention a way of life and a culture driver for our people."
  • DigitasLBi Goes Gospel For NewFronts

    And so the NewFronts. That time when all things digital trot out their offerings to all things agency in hopes that the latter opens its wallet for the former. And any time you give a marketing person a chance to get on stage and sell themselves, what you usually end up with is, well, something other than normal.

    Today, it seems, DigitasLBi pulled out all the stops and went full on gospel. According to this tweet, it seems the agency has gone biblical.

    So what was the epic craziness all about? The agency struck a deal with Vox Media that offers the agency a first look at Vox Media's native product, Chorus for Advertising. Ah ha! There's the gospel tie in. Now it all makes perfect sense.

  • Attik Ceases to Exist After Scion Loss

    Last month, Droga5 won the Toyota Scion account -- besting incumbent Attik, which has had the account since 2002. Attik was to continue to be part of the creative team for the brand and support various marketing initiatives. Apparently, that has turned out not to be the case.

    Parent company Dentsu will absorb Attik with employees at both the agency's LA and San Francisco offices to be reassigned. While many Attik employees will find a home within Dentsu, there will be some layoffs, according to sources.

    Regarding the closure, a Dentsu statement reads, “After evaluating the Attik business with an eye towards future growth and sustainability, we have decided to bring Attik into Dentsu Aegis Network. The result will be a reorganization of the business with a long-term view towards client needs and opportunities that will most effectively leverage Attik’s talent, expertise and capabilities on a broader scale. We are actively working to ensure a smooth transition and to redeploy people within Dentsu Aegis Network.”
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