I like High Mcleod’s thoughts on marketing. He’s insightful and by all accounts walks the walk as well as talking the talk with regard to leading edge marketing. In his post “advertising 2.0 doesn’t exist” he has (among other things) a good crack at ad agencies, their relevancy and their role.
But is the problem really the ad agency? What is the client’s role in this? How close am I if I say that the majority of advertising and selling lacks impact because too little time and effort is invested into differentiating products, services and value proposition?
How much do companies invest in understanding their market? Their competitors? Trying to see what their customers see?
Is that the role of an ad agency? I don’t think so. Ad agencies in my mind are good at one thing and one thing only; take a brief and communicate an idea in the most effective way. No more, no less.
Here are a few of Hugh’s points:
5. Saatchi & Saatchi: “We’re not an ad agency, we’re an ideas business.” Right. Oh well, I’m sure they’re trying to get there one day. Maybe they’ll succeed. Who knows.
No they are not an ideas business; that’s what the client should be. The ad agency should just be good at ideas to communicate the idea.
6. So a lot of clients have been recently asking their ad agencies, “So what can you do for us in Web 2.0?” And the agencies have been replying, “Lots! Lots and lots and lots and lots!” Bullshit. Ad agencies have so far been hopeless in this space. I don’t know of ONE SINGLE piece of work coming out of a traditional ad agency in the last five years that has been even halfway original, thought provoking or effective. Captain Morgan’s? Beyond lame. Juicy Fruit? Beyond lame on steroids. Glenfiddich? A missed opportunity.
Ask a silly question and you get a silly answer. What’s web 2.0? A new magazine? Instead, what if a client asked “So what can you do for us to get our customers to tell us what they think?” That might be useful.
7. Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the very fine London ad agency, used to pitch their clients, “We makes brands famous”. Right. Like movie stars. Like celebs. Like the guys getting out of the limos and walking down the red carpet. Like the ones who get all the money and invites to the fancy parties. While the rest of us stand behind the velvet rope out in the cold, looking in with longing. Great. Super. Lucky us.
What’s wrong with that pitch? Nothing that I can see. The ad agency is pitching to a marketing manager/director/vp. The marketing manager wants a famous brand, because a famous brand will make her famous. All this demonstrates is that the agency knows their target market.
So ad agencies are not the problem. They’re just not as important in the mix as they believe they are. The problem lies with business that try and take short cuts.The problem lies with businesses that won’t invest time and money in the fundamentals of their marketing success.