The head-on collision of ad agencies and clients has been written up more than a few times.
You don’t need me to tell you there’s moaning on both sides.
The unease puts you in mind of McGregor vs Mayweather.
From marketers we hear agencies aren’t responsive to change, they haven’t diversified and they’re overstaffed with management types.
They gripe about ad fraud and whinge about agencies that charge like the proverbial wounded bull.
Moreover, marketers say agencies aren’t knowledgeable about business, agility is iffy and agency holding companies are focused more on quarterly returns for investors than on shaping the future for brands.
What’s all that if not bruising.
But it’s not as bruising as hearing the agency model is broken, that’s it’s dead.
From the other side, agency people say marketers are sidetracked chasing the latest tech.
We hear ad managers think tactics are everything. They’re wedded to fix-its, not strategy.
We hear the importance of brand purpose is overstated and digital technologies are seen as solutions rather than platforms to deliver content.
We hear fee cuts are a threat to agency viability.
We hear bureaucracies reign and those in Procurement lack marketing vision.
Equally, it’s said too many ad managers don’t know a creative idea when they see one and their briefs carry all the inspiration of an empty bookshelf.
Right enough there’s a rift, agencies and clients aren’t exactly chums.
Maybe we need an advertising and marketing version of Julian Assange to get to the bottom of it.
Only joking on that account but until we see something positive it’s the work that suffers.
We have to put up with drab content and ads that are wearily familiar.
You wouldn’t be wrong to call them advertising chloroform.
So, what’s the cure?
It might be an idea to quash the infighting and begin improving strategies and creative work.
Maybe more sales-focused marketers are required.
We’re thinking of CMOs like Sergio Zyman who was at Coca-Cola in the 90s.
When everyone thought you couldn’t sell more Coke — the market was saturated — he rose to the occasion.
Zyman increased sales by 50% worldwide over five years.
With that, the stock price went stratospheric. It quadrupled.
Where are the marketers now who are as shrewd, gritty and unwavering?
How about creative work?
Axe the conflict with clients and agencies might have a better chance to produce ads like this one for the Economist.
By putting a premium on engagement it’s winning the battle against creative boredom .
Not surprisingly the public loved it. You heard about it in pub conversations.
Work at this level changes the way ads are viewed, doesn’t it?
Instead of an intrusion, a billboard becomes a memorable part of your day.
There’s a turnaround for you.
Time spent studying great stuff, like the Economist, should blanket marketers and agencies with discomfort.
Discomfort about all the dreary efforts produced these days.
But maybe more agencies and marketers will rise above the bickering and do something about it.
PS. Sir Martin Sorrell exits.
Just read about it in an article by Tom Doctoroff. Don’t miss it: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/after-sir-martin-sorrell-reckoning-tom-doctoroff/
Docotoroff has a good point: ad agencies should be more than producers of low-end TV spots and print ads … the ones that do little to make brands less anonymous. Doctoroff says agencies should regain their value as a source of ideas. Because to improve and enlarge a brand they are the only place to attract both creative and strategic minds.
Some may quibble with that as there’s a case for say, the creative talent in Dyson’s in-house team. They’re strong.
But you can say the best agencies are active and imaginative in their approach – hugely so. They work to counter fixed outlooks. They go beyond conventional solutions in dealing with recurring problems. They question accepted thinking, they’re not just reactors, they have the creative ability to position a brand well beyond the reach of competitors. And they operate with an autonomy that’s rare in a corporate environment; they often give you a more searching view of your brand outside the four walls of your boardroom.