This is the Ginza crossing of crossings. Spaghetti Junction. Roads are going every which way, and there is no telling which one is the right one.
Why are we here? Well, as the saying goes: Everything we have done to date brought us here. If we look over our shoulder, we can see the path that led us to this point.
There are the organizational decisions we made along the way. Agencies made every part of their business a profit center, and created profit centers within the profit centers. Where they used to be advisors and purveyors of creativity that had the ability to move a consumer to like and buy a brand, today agencies are sellers of hours, technology, content and even media space.
While agencies used to pride themselves on independent advice and a somewhat rebellious and anarchistic culture, they are now bound by financial commitments, savings targets and speed to market.
Agencies used to offer marketers a respite from their mundane and perhaps somewhat boring office life, a place where they would be exposed to people very different from themselves, their daily business or office culture. There were people who delivered brilliant insight and creative executions wrought from briefings that were as crappy back then as they are today.
Today agencies offer pretty much an extension of the marketing department, enriched with an army of invisible minions who do things with data, consumer journeys, DSPs and other stuff that seems important.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not glorifying the good old days. Or perhaps I am lamenting one aspect of it: I actually lament the fact that we seem to have molded agencies into one part client marketing department clone, another part tech company clone, with seemingly little love or time for the craft of creation.
I have often said that we live in the era of Homo Analyticus, and that without a Ph.D. in either data or computer sciences you don’t stand a chance, as your job will be taken over by an algorithm. There are tons of studies that correctly proclaim there is a wide gap between tech needs and tech skills in advertising and marketing.
All those studies show clearly that agencies (and marketers) are falling seriously short in recruiting, training and developing the types of people that could be or become Homo Analyticus. And those who have these skills are not so hot on a career in marketing or advertising.
So perhaps it is time to add a second typology: Homo Creaticus. With all our talk of content and consumer engagement, we seem to place very little value on the actual creators of content. Data is the hero. Data wizards are heroes: Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Travis Kalanick, Brian Chesky, Frank Addante, Marc Benioff, the list goes on.
David Ogilvy was a copywriter, as was Leo Burnett. Dan Wieden wrote copy. Walt Disney created animation. Yes, we need people who can understand data and technology, but we also need people that are creative geniuses. It is time to bring back wisdom and magic, art and science, the left and right brain of advertising.