From an agency perspective, there are exactly three ways to look at the rise of consumer control. The first view is like something out of the Book of Revelation — all conquest, war, famine and death. Happily, the ad industry, thanks to countless foretellings of the death of the 30-second spot and pretty much every other Madison Avenue institution, by now has gotten used to apocalyptic visions of its future, so this will mean minimal leaps out of windows.
The second way of looking at this is to pretty much reject the notion that there’s any fundamental change at all. This is perhaps best espoused by Euro RSCG New York Executive Creative Director Jeff Kling, who responds thusly to the suggestion that consumers could one day unseat agencies at the right hand of marketers: “I think the idea that this represents a threat to ad agencies is patently absurd and drummed up to have something interesting to discuss. I don’t know anyone who fears for his job. Companies have always wanted to gain control over what’s said about them. It used to be letters to the editor; now it’s consumer-generated content. Advertising has the same role it’s always had, and managing and leveraging all that content that’s out there is classic creative direction.”
We arrive rather dialectically at the third way: an acknowledgment that there are lessons to be learned but those lessons don’t necessarily herald the end of the ad agency as we know it.
If you think Ad Age is simply following’s Time lead, Jonah Bloom explains that the editors were already leaning that way when Time published its Person of the Year issue. Plus, it was the 2nd choice anyway; if the whole Wal-Mart/Julie Roehm thing hadn’t blown up last month, DraftFCB would’ve won.