New Study Examines Importance of Agency Roles - The Results Will Shock You

Yo, creatives. And account people. And media people. And, yeah, agency founders. You're just not that important to the ongoing wellbeing of your agency. A new study from University of Texas Assistant Professor Sekou Bermiss made an interesting discovery. It's the Joan Hollands of the ad world that keep things afloat. Speaking to Harvard Business Review, Bermiss explains: "We separated the executives into two groups -- internally facing people in charge of things like production, HR, and finance, and externally facing people like account executives and creative directors. Then we measured the effect of their departures on firm survival. Losing people from the first group -- the internally facing executives -- was significantly more damaging than losing people from the second group." Yup, that's right, you hotshots in creative, media and Account service. You are not as irreplaceable as you might like to think.

Would you entrust your marketing to a 15-year-old? Well, one marketer in Sweden, educational institution Kunskapsforbundet, is happy to hand the marketing of three of its upper secondary (highschool) schools over to five 15- to-19-year-olds. Figuring people the same age as those being marketed to might relate better to the target audience and create better advertising, Cordovan Communications has launched a new, seemingly unnamed agency staffed by kids. To allay fears these kids will simply sit around Snapchatting and Whatsapping all day long, Cordovan will provide good, old-fashioned adult supervision. Of being selected to work at the agency, 17-year-old Markus Petterson said: "For me, working with art and design is really a dream come true. Working at Sweden’s youngest advertising agency is the perfect step towards such a career. Despite my young age, I have some experience of working life and think I can add greatly to Sweden’s youngest advertising agency. I already have a lot of ideas that I want to share." Now, if only agencies would hire Baby Boomers to market to Baby Boomers who, you know, have the highest disposable income of any demographic group. Sadly, that'll never happen. After all, just how hipsterific can an agency be with a bunch of gray hairs wandering the hallways? And, really, anyone over 40 is, like, so stupid. 

Daily Dot Media’s growing creative agency has added two new hires -- David Flynn, most recently director of VICE’s ad network for the U.S. and the Americas; and Chris Boyles, formerly of Razorfish and Digitas. Flynn will serve as Managing Director from the Daily Dot’s New York City office, and Boyles as Creative Director of the Daily Dot’s in-house agency from the company’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. No word on whether or not Flynn or Boyles are over 40.

Fully embracing the ad industry's biggest cliche, Dare CEO Sean Thompson is leaving the agency to pursue a career in filmmaking. Of the shift, Thompson said: "My time with Dare has been a wonderful experience. The people, the clients and the work we’ve been able to produce together have made me hugely proud. It's now time for me to pursue a personal dream and start a new venture that marries film narrative and digital experience. I wish them all the very best and will watch their progress with great interest." Oh now, come on, Sean. No, you won't. You can't wait to get out of the agency world and start hanging with the "Hollywood" crowd, right?

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2 comments about "New Study Examines Importance of Agency Roles - The Results Will Shock You ".
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  1. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER , August 13, 2014 at 8:58 a.m.

    Maybe losing creative and account people helps a company more than hurts them. The study focuses on survival, but very few agencies survive more than a generation and a half; they morph into another agency entirely: witness Ogilvy, Burnett, DDB, BBDO. Companies change and Harvard should study itself before venturing outward to study the obvious.

  2. Chris Boyles from Daily Dot Media , August 13, 2014 at 2:56 p.m.

    I'm 40 1/2. I'll let you be the judge of whether or not that's a good thing.

  • Hey Agencies, Here's 5 Reasons Why Startups Should Pay You More

    David Murdico, creative director and managing partner of Supercool Creative Agency puts forth a solid argument as to why startups should pay agencies more than brands do for the same work. 

    First of all, he notes a startup is an unknown entity and no one has ever heard of it before making it all the more difficult to create the necessary marketing program to achieve awareness and sale. He notes startups are generally more demanding than established brand marketers, often times because so much is at stake.

    Perhaps the biggest problem area when it comes to crafting marketing for a startup is that up until the point the startup reached out to an agency, everything about the startup has, thus far, operated in an echo chamber with scant few nodding and bobbing their heads in agreement without truly vetting the idea or how the idea will be perceived in the real world.

    Another challenge when working with a startup? They tend to change their mind a lot about, well, everything. And that can be a gigantic time suck. Check out Murdico's entire list here and file it away in your back pocket for use the next time you consider working with a startup.

  • This Consultant Argues CMOs, Not CFOs and COOs Should Rise to the Office of CEO

    Max Brand Equity President Richard Guha says marketers should own and run businesses. He notes that many CEOs are culled from the CFO and COO ranks rather than the CMO ranks. 

    Making the argument, he writes: "If Marketing were to do its job perfectly and customers were to come and buy, there would be no need for Sales. So if only Marketing could do its job perfectly, it would be the 'go-to' function in business. Yet, companies routinely look to the CFO or Head of Operations, who do not directly contribute to the key objective of the company when it comes to choosing a CEO instead of promoting the CMO to CEO. Why?

    Why, indeed? 

    Well, he says too many marketers rely on gut feel rather than sound, scientific analysis. He notes: "Engineers can’t [rely on gut feel], or bridges would collapse, buildings crumble, and machines fail. Marketers need to think more like good engineers than mere wielders of tools."

    Do marketers lack the ability to approach brand building in the manner Guha advocates? Or is the nature of marketing and advertising too "squishy" to be crafted with exactitude akin to engineering a bridge? Is it silly to even compare the two?
  • Tumblr Blog 'Mad Men Integrated' Envisions Mad Men Characters In the Digital Age

    This is gold! Gold, I tell you! And it's arrived just in time. As we all mourn the loss of our beloved Mad Men characters, they have been given renewed life, in the form of a Tumblr blog, as digital natives spewing all the usual buzzword bingo that's so prevalent in today's marketing landscape.

    Taking on the form of animated gifs, we have Don informing his secretary: "The future of advertising is socially integrated digital platforms." We have Peggy commending a co-worker saying: "Nice branded social post, bro." We have Don asking Peggy: "But does it work as a pre-roll." We have Don reacting to a proposed "Tinder-powered drone." We have Pete telling Don: "The CTRs need optimizing for behavioral targeting of Millennials." 

    And on and on and on. Brilliance.

  • Former Y&R Exec Heads To Children's Hospital Of Chicago

    Kary McIlwain, a 26-year veteran of Y&R, is heading to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago in July taking the position of vice president of marketing. Since 2002, McIlwain has been president and North American managing partner of Y&R.

    Of Mcllwain, Children's Hospital President and CEO Patrick Magoon said: "We are excited to have a marketing executive of her caliber joining Lurie Children's. With her expertise and passion, Kary is the ideal leader to oversee our marketing efforts in support of the hospital's mission."

    Under McIlwain's tenure, Y&R was named 2014 Agency of the Year by the Chicago Advertising Federation. On joining Children's Hospital, Mcllwain adds, "I am thrilled to embark on this new phase in my career, to step out of the advertising agency world into promoting a mission-driven organization. Lurie Children's is a world class hospital that deserves world class recognition." 

    Linda Wolf, former chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett Company, chairs Lurie Children's Marketing Committee and said, "I have known Kary for many years and I have watched her grow into one of the top marketing executives in the country. Her deep knowledge of the advertising world and her track record of exceptional outcomes will greatly benefit Lurie Children's, one of Chicago's beloved institutions."
  • This McCann Mad Man Says Computers Have Destroyed Creativity

    Greg Birbil worked at McCann for over 40 years. He started in 1961 and retired ten years ago. In an interview with Vulture, he relives some memories from the Mad Men era of advertising but has no kind words for the current state of things, especially the use of technology in creative departments.

    Of that inevitable development, he says, "You know, I have a whole theory: I just think computers are not good for creative people. They’re a finishing-up tool, not the instrument to help you create. It’s not because I’m an old guy -- because I don’t respect or understand the value of the computer or the internet. It’s a pencil, an extremely fast pencil."

    He continues: "But the computer guys, at a digital agency, they’ve got their heads in the screen all day and have absolutely no human skills. An art director in the old days was dealing with typesetters, photographers, the client. These guys don’t. You’re looking to make people see things in a new way, and if you’re in there looking for stuff, that won’t happen."

    Is he right?
  • Really? Seriously? Now We Have The Chief Native Officer?

    Oh for f*ck's sake! Stop. Just please stop! Every ridiculous addition to the CxO title space just dumbs down the importance of the core four: CEO, CFO, COO and CIO. Maybe you can add CMO and CCO to that list -- but chief data officer? Chief customer officer? And now...wait for it...chief native officer?

    Yeah. Chief native officer. Or at least that's what Forbes Contributor Daniel Newman would like to see instituted. Newman argues that the merging of paid and earned media requires this CxO style oversight. 

    He furthers his point, writing: "The biggest reason to get a Native Officer is that while digital agencies and publishers work together, they don’t necessarily do so as a team. In fact, there are instances where they don’t see eye to eye. While publishers are great at creating content, they can treat branded content like a 'second-class citizen.' On the other hand, digital agencies consider themselves star content creators for brands. In such circumstances, there’s a pressing need for a 'dedicated task force' to exploit native ads to their fullest potential. The CNO should lead this pack, guiding the brand towards rewarding native advertising campaigns and best practices."

    So what say you? Do we need the chief native officer?

  • Further Ignoring Productivity Studies, 'Superwide' Office Space Is Now All the Rage

    Sort of like food brands still pimping low fat/no fat products when studies clearly indicate the human body needs fat, the office management world is still pimping open office space when many studies have shown it's a less productive solution than more traditional office space.

    That's not stopping the latest trend in office space, the Superwide. Superwide office space is large, one floor office space consisting of 100,000 square feet or more. Of the trend, Brookfield Property Partners Senior VP Duncan McCuaig said: “Large floors are absolutely in demand.” And “right now there is very little of this product in the city,” he added, referring to Manhattan.

    Adam Kansler, managing director at financial data company Markit, loves the open office concept and says: “There’s something that gets lost” when a company is on multiple floors. You don’t get the same random moments of seeing someone from across the way, hearing that they’re working on a project, and saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to stop by.’ ”

    Which, for some, is exactly the problem with the open office concept; constant interruptions and annoyances from co-workers who never shut up and have nothing better to do than run a constant stream of verbal diarrhea while you're trying to complete a project. 

    But that won't stop ad agencies from continuing to pile on this trend.
  • Former JWT Director Joins Gravity As Global Strategist

    Multicultural ad agency, Gravity, has named Rodrigo Alanis global strategist for the shop, which has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Paris.

    Alanis, who is fluent in Spanish, comes to Gravity from his start-up Optimistico where he served as founder and chief executive officer. He has been with Optimistico since 2009. Prior to that, Alanis served as director at JWT Inside for nine years and traveled  across the agency's multiple offices including New York and Dallas.

    Of Alanis, Gravity CEO Yuriy Boykiv, said: “Rod is a valuable addition to the Gravity team as we expand and strengthen our competencies in consumer insights, brand planning and analytics.

    Alanis has worked on campaigns for brands such as HSBC, JetBlue, Scholastic, Harry Potter, The U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Marines.

    Of joining the agency, Alanis said, “Joining Gravity is a unique opportunity to bring my diverse experience in brand-led business growth strategy to the team and its clients. The agency has an iconic client list, and very, very talented people. I’m thrilled to be part of this growth opportunity.”
  • Copywriter Uses Instagram to Teach People How to Speak Foreign Languages

    Otavio Barbon, a copywriter at AKQA New York, has launched a personal project. It's called @The Polyglot, a profile on Instagram (and sister Web site) that teaches people how to spell and pronounce the most common words in six different languages.

    All voices used in the project -- which is a side gig and not associated with AKQA -- were recorded by native speakers, allowing for pronunciations that are accurate and natural...very different, Barbon says, from the robotic voices of most translation platforms.

    Of the project, Barbon said: “Instagram is actually a perfect platform for quick learning. Our idea with The Polyglot is to bring something useful to people’s feeds. It’s a simple, friendly way to introduce people to new languages and hopefully inspire them to learn more.”

    So the next time you have a meeting with a foreign client or overseas outpost of your agency, check out @The_Polyglot.
  • Campbell-Ewald to Defend Use of Unsolicited Text Messages For U.S. Navy to The Supreme Court

    Campbell-Ewald is hitting it big time. The Supreme Court will hear from the agency and consider whether the agency, which was hired by the U.S. Navy to boost recruitment, is immune from a lawsuit that claims it illegally authorized thousands of unsolicited text messages.

    The U. S. Supreme Court said Monday it will hear an appeal from Campbell-Ewald during which the agency will argue that federal contractors can't be sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

    The court appearance stems from a campaign the agency created for the U.S. Navy that involved the sending of text messages through a subcontractor to thousands of cell phones, including one belonging to Jose Gomez. Gomez says he never consented to receiving the texts and filed a class-action lawsuit.

    A federal appeals court rejected the company's claim that government contractors are immune from such lawsuits. The company also argues that Gomez can't pursue a class action because he refused an offer to settle the case.
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