Former TBWA Creative Director Says Apple's Awesome Advertising Died With Steve Jobs

Ken Segall, who worked on the Apple account while at TBWA/Chiat/Day, thinks a Job-less Apple has "lost its ad bite." Speaking to the The Australian, Segall said, “I feel that Apple is acting a lot like a big company now when it comes to marketing, and a lot of their recent efforts show that. Their iPad advertising is more like, ‘People all around the world are using the iPad to do amazing things.’ That may be true and that may be impressive, but people aren’t buzzing about their commercials.’’ And why is this happening? Segall goes on to say, “My sense is that they are starting to behave more like a typical large company when it comes to advertising. There seems to be plenty of competition, with a number of creative teams working on things -- the best team wins sort of thing. That isn’t the way Steve worked. He worked with a small group of people at our agency and if he didn’t like something we would do something else. We lived and breathed it and worked around the clock till it was right.’’

Has the current advertising landscape got you down? Do you hate that every friggin' brand wants to be your friend? Do you feel like a good ad campaign now consists of a Hyperlapse video posted to Vine and Instagram and then embedded in a blog post which, itself, is then posted to Facebook and tweeted out to a brand's followers who are asked to retweet that tweet and Like the brand's Facebook page so they can be entered into a contest that will award them Klout points if only they send in the best Snapchat of the brand's product? Well, Tomorrow Group CEO Tom Goodwin feels your pain. Writing in the Guardian, Goodwin says: "We’ve created the long tail of marketing, where each campaign has ever smaller budgets, ever shorter lifespans, diminishing aims, all so wonderfully cheap in execution, so wonderfully proficient in terms of outputs, but so entirely pointless. It’s this maintaining excitement for a Twitter feed of 4,000 people, or keeping the 500 subscribers on YouTube happy that is the marketing of our time. It may be cheap, but it’s a pointless distraction and it’s not solving any of the problems that are keeping our clients up at night." Amen, brother.

So, of course you've heard of ad:tech, right? That conference that is sort of the mother of all ad conferences? Trouble is, it's become so big and so unwieldy that perhaps it's lost its way. But on the upside, it appears the show runners realize that and are applying a fix. That fix comes in the form of PAN Communications, a PR firm ad:tech has hired to, as the press release explains, "increase show engagement with attendees, elevating brand awareness to potential audiences and strengthening relationships with core media." And in addition, "develop sharable content, manage social channels, and build out media and influencer relations in correlation with upcoming events in New York City and San Francisco." Will PAN succeed? We certainly hope they do.

And if things weren't already bad enough for ad agencies, brands are shifting away from agency trading desks for their programmatic buying needs and shifting that business over to independent specialists. According to a new report from the World Federation of Advertisers brands' usage of agency trading desks has declined from 81% percent in 2013 to 69% percent in 2014. On the flip side, usage of independent trading desks or demand-side providers has increased from 8% in 2013 to 29% in 2014. Better get your acts together, agencies.

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  • 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."
  • No, Really! Taking Someone Else's Idea And Giving It Your Own Spin Absolutely Does Make An Original!

    It must be the week for glorious creative pontification. Just a few days ago, I shared with you a video created by David Brier which attempted to define the process of branding but ended up a full-on blatherific word salad of epic proportion. 

    Now we've got a video from Director Andrew Vucko. Yes, it's a little different from Brier's effort, but it's in the same vein. In the video, Vucko takes on originality -- a hot topic in the ad world, as many ideas are simply recreations of previous ideas. Vucko's point is that nothing is ever complete, nothing is final and everything is under continuous re-development. But then the video takes a nosedive into usual rhetoric about creativity putting a new spin on things by, get this, adding yourself to the equation. Now if that isn't the most perfect assessment of the ego-centric, "I am awesome. I made this" creative world, I don't know what is.

    Vucko explains the project, which began as something completely different, saying: "Eventually, I took a step back and chose to build something on the very topic that was plaguing me -- the theme of originality. From there, I searched for references and inspiration, coming across all of these interesting quotes on the subject. While at first each quote felt like a separate idea, as I continued to read, I realized that they could be combined into a single narrative."

    The video concludes with: "It's not where you take things from, it's where you take them to." So yes. It's perfectly fine to take someone else's idea and put your stamp on it.
  • Alex Bogusky to Launch Social-Good Start-Up

    It would appear that Crispin Porter + Bogusky Co-Founder Alex Bogusky is launching a new venture. Sources say the entity will be called Spiffly, which is being described as a sort of aggregated network of "companies and professionals making and supporting a new generation of consumer products that take into consideration people, planet and profit."

    On Tuesday, Bogusky tweeted: "Excited to launch new social-good platform very soon. Imagine an agency with a community (millions) and media distribution built in."

    When I responded to Bogusky's tweet and asked whether he could share more information, he said: "I can't comment at this point." Which is totally understandable at this stage of the game. Although it's said that Spiffly will be a joint venture with Disney/ABC/Univision's cable network and digital platform Fusion.

    The Denver Egoist reports: "The agency [Bogusky clarifies Spiffly will be a "startup in the natural food space," not an agency] will begin with work for non-profits and foundations doing issue-based pushes but will plan to expand to brands doing good. Fusion has offices in Miami, LA and NYC. The new agency [start-up] will be located in Boulder."

    To me, it seems the offering will be a people-powered sort of approach to advertising and/or content distribution. We'll know more soon enough.
  • Cannes Lions Wants Agencies To Send Worst Creatives To Festival

    Working with McCann London, the folks behind Cannes Lions have launched a new campaign that suggests agencies offer to send their worst employees to the festival of creativity this year...because it's cheaper than firing them and paying severance.

    The purpose, of course, is to make one last-ditch effort to inspire the -- shall we say -- less inspired by dropping them into the center of advertising creativity for one week. I guess if after a week in Cannes they still suck, well, then it's time to bid them adieu. Although you will have to pay them severance then, so the whole send-them-to-Cannes thing is, indeed, a gamble. 

    Headlines to the ads read: "Nisha, Strategist. Has dedicated seven loyal years to your agency. With very little to show for it" and Samuel, Producer. You fought hard to hire him. Responds to every suggestion with 'It can't be done.'" The ads are signed off with "Buy her/him a delegate pass. Cheaper than severance."

    Of the approach, McCann London CCO Rob Doubal said: "Although our campaign is humorous, it makes a very sensible point. Why should being a Cannes Lions delegate be the preserve of the already excellent? If we really want a more creative world, as we all profess, we should also be encouraging the not-so-excellent performers to be inspired by Cannes Lions."

    Funny stuff, this campaign. Trouble is, now everyone that is sent to Cannes by their agency is now going to have a gigantic inferiority complex along with nightmares about whether or not agency management thinks they’re up to snuff. 

    Oh, and the poor people who had to pose for the campaign -- branded losers for life!

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