4A's And ANA Play Blame Game Over Dearth of Agency Talent

There's a heated debate going on between 4A's President Nancy Hill and Association of National Advertisers' Bob Liodice. After Hill penned a piece for CMO Today on why ad agencies are starved for talent in which she argued that agency pay is much lower -- particularly for entry-level positions, because clients don't pay enough -- than other industries, particularly tech, Liodice shot back, claiming it's the inefficient agency business model that's causing the problem. Hill writes: "Extended payment terms, unreasonable indemnification clauses, incentive plans that don’t incentivize, FTE negotiations on hours in a year all add up to a system that is broken." Liodice counters, saying agencies don't do enough to recruit the right people and, once they do, they don't offer the necessary training to retain that talent. Liodice also points out that the estimated sales and earnings growth of agencies is far more robust than that of brands, prompting one to wonder why agencies -- which appear to be financially healthy -- can't pay more for talent.

In case you were wondering, there are four types of digital agencies. At least according to Propane Studio CEO Neil Chaudart, who has taken it upon himself to categorize digital agencies for us. First, he says there's the "digital campaign agency" -- which is basically just a traditional agency that comes up with big, emotionally moving ideas. He explains: "Digital campaign agencies push these ideas out to all digital channels with the intention of luring users back to a central hub or destination: It's the 'big idea' that hooks them in." Next is the "integrated marketing digital agency" -- which is less about developing the big idea and more about tactics such as SEO, SEM, mobile, email and other executions designed to drive traffic to a particular destination by using data, analytics and marketing automation platforms. Third is the "digital solutions agency" which goes beyond the big idea and gets down and dirty with the development of CMS systems, sales portals, inventory management and custom software development with a marketing focus. And finally, there's the "DX agency" -- which is all about creating that pervasive aura of customer experience "and utilizes human psychology to create solutions that, when combined, activate a strong, steady pull towards the brand." Sort of like a cultish religion, if there were such a thing in the ad agency world.

Content marketing is all the rage now, right? Everyone's doing it. Everyone has something to say about it. And everyone wants to provide it as a service. Even media agencies. You know, those folks who take deep dives into data in order to decide where the ads should go? Yeah -- not too a big a leap. At least according to Starcom UK MediaVest Group Co-Chief Executive Steve Parker who argues in MediaWeek that media agencies are, in fact, perfectly capable of doing content marketing. Parker argues that the role of media has always been about delivering the right content to the right person in the right context. Furthermore, he adds: "While everyone else has been debating who owns content marketing, we have been building a team of more than 60 diverse specialists who use data to understand what content a consumer wants and take responsibility for creating, curating, delivering and optimizing that experience." Hmm, sounds quite logical to me.

Boston-based PJA Advertising and education organization College Bound Dorchester is out with 3 Syllable Boston, a game that asks players to solve 20 puzzles to see how well they know Boston. Players are asked questions about where the Boston Marathon ends, where the city parties on July 4th, Fenway Park trivia and more. But the catch is that all the answers are just three syllables long. Which sort of helps with the guessing. It's all to "promote fun, optimism and goodwill citywide.”
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1 comment about "4A's And ANA Play Blame Game Over Dearth of Agency Talent".
  1. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER , August 15, 2014 at 7:27 a.m.
    Mr. Liodice makes points that are demonstrable if true. The ANA members can all take their advertising in-house and see if Mr. Liodice's propositions are valid against the mirror of reality
  • Agency Searches For Santa With Elaborate Victorian-Era Expedition

    With its holiday card effort, Indiana-based Miller Brooks has embarked upon an exploration and the discovery of hidden truths. The agency began by recruiting mission participants via a display ad patterned closely after Ernest Shackleton’s famous advertisement of 1914 which sought crewmen for the Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The ads appeared in the classified sections of local publications.

    The agency next mailed clients and prospective clients a pseudo-Victorian map of the North Pole wrapped around a signed holiday greeting that did double-duty as a teaser postcard by showing a photo of a Santa-esque figure posing with a ship’s crew, and directing readers to TheExpeditionNorth.com for further information. All the materials came enclosed in an envelope that displayed an ornate, period-appropriate return address stamp, along with vintage postage stamps which, in turn, were selected to show scenes of ocean exploration.

    Additional recipients were alerted to the mission and its Web site through a series of email messages -- one that echoed the print ad and included era-appropriate advertisements for several of Miller Brooks’ clients and a second communication that announced the mission’s launch on the front page of an invented Victorian newspaper, the Voyager’s Weekly: A Graphic Compendium of Travelogues.

    When visitors arrive at TheExpeditionNorth.com, they are greeted by a summary of the voyage’s purpose, as well as a biography of the mission’s leader and a description of the Miller Brooks Society for Exploratory Illumination. A multi-part captain’s journal tells the story of the mission’s launch, travails, and eventual triumph in period-appropriate language accompanied by Photoshopped images.

  • Saatchi LA Asks Us All to Unplug For the Holidays

    Saatchi LA is taking a new approach to the ad industry holiday card and has set out to raise something money can’t buy. The agency is asking people to hang up the phone during dinner, close laptops during family movies, unplug from social networks and plug into positive interactions with family to spend meaningful time with loved ones during this holiday season through its, Holidays Unplugged initiative.

    Here's how it works. The holiday e-card invites people to join the fundraiser here. Users pledge to unplug in hourly increments and for every hour pledged, Saatchi LA will donate $1, up to $10,000, to the Hollywood Community Housing Corporation in partnership with Adopt a Family.

    The program will remain open through January 4 and people can track the progress toward the 10,000 hour goal, make comments and share images and videos. The agency has drafted rotating copy for an automatically generated tweet/facebook post for when people pledge.

  • This Agency Gives You A Break From Your Facebook Feed's Vitriolic Outrage

    It's always a good thing to help the kids. Especially kids in need. And even more especially, kids who have limited access to creative endeavors. Throughout the year, brand strategy and design firm Lippincott partners with Creative Art Works, a New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to empowering kids through creativity and bringing arts education to schools that have lost it.

    Lippincott’s 2014 "holiday card" celebrates the efforts the agency goes to throughout the year to help kids explore their creativity. So in a time when your Facebook feed is filled with an overflowing abundance of vitriolic outrage, you can take solace in the fact that there are still fleeting moments of heartwarming goodness in this world. I certainly wish there were more.

  • Grey New York Sticks Annoying Millennials In Their Own Private Playpen

    Oh, this is rich. Ever since the 88 million Millennials started swarming the office world, freaked out GenX and Baby Boomer managers have tried just about everything to better meld with these stereotypically self-entitled, hierarchy-agnostic, trophy-for-participation 20-somethings. Well, it seems Grey New York has found the answer.

    What's Grey's solution? They rounded up all the whiners...uh...Millennials and gave them their own playpen. No, seriously. A while back, the agency moved all its assistant account executives into one area of the office, effectively segregating them from their managers. Why? So they'll grow up and think before they speak. And that comes right from the mouth of a Millennial!

    Of the segregated office space, called Base Camp, Grey AAE Sean McNamara said, “Since I’m not sitting in front of my supervisor, I’m not able to just turn around and say, ‘Hey, this is what I think.’ It makes you think: When does this call for me to go over and talk about things, and when will an e-mail suffice?” That's right. Apparently, Millennials must be physically separated from their bosses to rescue management from an incessant stream of mindless, ill-thought-through banter.

  • Leo Burnett Eschews Holiday Silliness With Meaningful Toy Drive For Chicago Children

    It's nonstop charity action this year with ad agency holiday cards. It's as if every agency in the land is finally hanging their head in shame for the decades of trite, meaningless holiday silliness they've foisted upon us for far too long. Nice to see things changing.

    Leo Burnett Chicago is out with a program that makes donating gifts to children at Off The Street Club as easy as tweeting a photo. "Gift of Giving 2014" allows people to donate by snapping a Twitter or Instagram photo of the gift and tagging it with #GiftOfGiving2014.

    That gift image will appear on digital display gift boxes under an actual Christmas tree at Off The Street Club in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood and virtually at TheGiftOfGiving.co where one can search for it using one's screen name. Once found, people can download a prepaid postage label to ship that gift directly to Off The Street Club at no cost. Now isn't that much nicer that some silly video?

  • DigitasLBi Quiz Determines Your Ugly Holiday Sweater Preferences

    You know that holiday sweater? The silly one that the office doofus insists upon wearing every year? Yeah, that sweater. Well, now you can have one of your very own too. And all you have to do is take this Ugly Sweater quiz that DigitasLBi put together.

    So head over to the agency's sweater-ific quiz site and answer a few questions such as your preference in Blizzard Survival apps, wearables, holiday party bites and what you plan to watch come 2015. You'll then be presented with a "hand-sewn" customized sweater that may or may not end up being called The Bun Toaster. And after you have taken the quiz, the agency will make a donation to Goodwill in an effort to keep everyone warm this year.

    As you take the quiz, a very nice lady -- likely some agency person's grandmother -- furiously works on creating a masterpiece of personalized wonderment. Now if only the sweaters were real.

  • Boston Agency Asks Santa What He Wants For Christmas

    Boston-based Captains of Industry is asking us all to turn the tables a bit on the whole Santa Claus thing. After all, year after year after year, the poor guy has to do all the giving. What if we asked Santa what he wanted for Christmas? Well, that's exactly what Captains did.

    So, what does Santa want? The agency hit the streets of Boston to find out. And here's what they found: a slap chop, a reduction of parking fees for reindeer, bigger candy canes, a satellite radio for the sleigh, a few days off for Mrs. Claus, a little less turmoil in the world for a couple of weeks, more happiness, help for drug addicted family members.

    The video ends with a simple reminder: "This holiday season, let's remember there's a man behind the beard.”

  • 10 Books Every Agency Person Should Read

    Well, at least according to Strawberry Frog Founder Scott Goodson, who has compiled a list of ten "mind-altering business books from 2014." He acknowledges that most business books simply repeat what many of us already know but these ten books (and a few honorable mentions) will truly shift your thinking and open your mind to new possibilities, according to Goodson.

    His list, compiled in a piece for Huffington Post, includes CREATIVITY INC: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, THE HARD THING ABOUT HARD THINGS: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers and Sally Hogshead's HOW THE WORLD SEES YOU: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination, among others.

    Check out the full list and get smarter. Because the last thing this industry needs is more of the same. We already have that is spades. Let's be different, Okay?

  • This Canadian Agency Used Airbnb to Raise Money For the Homeless

    In acknowledgement of the 3,500 homeless and 15,000 at risk households in their area, Calgary-based Trigger Communications decided to tackle homelessness in Calgary this season with what they are calling "The first-ever airbnb PSA." 

    The "PSA" which the agency created for Alberta charitable organization, The Mustard Seed, consists of airbnb listings that document what it's like to be homeless. Through social media, the agency encouraged people to book a night at one of these listings for $20 -- the same amount a person in Alberta receives for social assistance. 

    To further promote the fund-raising effort, the agency placed cardboard signs around the city promoting the listings. Now isn't that better than a bunch of agency employees tossing on some Christmas costumes and prancing around the office sharing their poor acting skills? Yes. Yes, it is.

  • Agency's Bitmas Pudding Mobile Game Awards Bitcoins to Winners

    London-based WCRS decided to marry the Bitcoin trendlet with some Christmas spirit. The agency has created Bitmas Pudding, a mobile game that takes its origins from the traditional practice of placing silver coins inside a Christmas pudding. The game, just like the tradition, has players eating their way through the pudding to find the bitcoins.

    The agency sent the game to clients, prospects and friends of the agency awarding winners with various prizes including a bitcoin worth $349. Players could also choose to donate their winnings to the homeless charity St. Mungo's Broadway.

    Of the game, WCRS Head of Technology and Innovation Dino Burbidge said: "Most people have heard of Bitcoins but almost all are totally baffled by them too. The simple idea of transforming a Christmas tradition was a great opportunity for our in-house creative and digital innovation teams to have some fun and demystify Bitcoins a little. At least it'll spark an interesting conversation over Christmas dinner when the pudding come out!"

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