Walkin’ The Line

There are a lot of interesting points (and comment counterpoints) in this post at The Daily (Ad) Biz, talking about “below-the-line” agencies attempting to cross over. Here’s a snippet:

It seems that every company with a Photoshop license seems to think that they are an ad agency…like this partner agency that I am working with. They are a below-the-line/brochure shop and every time they present new creative, they always seem to have somehow slipped a brand ad into their presentation.
Weird.
Of course, they say that it’s only “to illustrate the holistic nature of the idea” but we all know what they are really trying to do. They’re trying to broaden their scope of work. They’re trying to win some of our business.
They’re so bad at actual advertising that they don’t stand a chance.
Agencies of the world, hear me now – below-the-line, SEO, brochures, PR, promotions, etc and so on are an important part of the marketing mix but you’re in no way capable of doing the heavy lifting of brand building. Most traditional below-the-line is product selling, not brand building. And that’s cool, products do need to be sold last I checked…it’s just doesn’t really prepare you to do this advertising thing.
It’s harder than it looks.

Few agencies do everything well–above, below, through, crossing the line, whatever. And, expanding on what I said in my recent Talent Zoo column, many agencies simply aren’t hiring people who can do lots of things well.
It’s painfully obvious when an agency tries to do a piece of work that’s clearly out of its league. It usually shows.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.

Comments

  1. The invisible line that some invisible jackass drew in the invisible sand has been invisible for years. But don’t listen to me. Look to Crispin, Goodby and the rest of the best as they scramble to produce interactive, events, direct, etc.

  2. Ha! David, I figured you’d have a comment, given your penchant for the term “below-the-line.” I actually left a muddled comment at daily(ad)biz. It’s always interesting to see how we all see things from our own personal perspectives. In my experience, the “lead” agencies not only demonstrate an inability to handle anything beside their own specialty (the specialty usually being the outdated tv and print areas), most of them are growing increasingly incapable of even doing that. I always hated being in a scenario when we were forced to create a digital execution or promotional execution synergistic with a lame “lead” agency concept.

  3. @Big Leaguer – I generally get a kick out of The Daily (Ad) Biz, but the post in question is fucked up.

    Agencies of the world, hear me now – below-the-line, SEO, brochures, PR, promotions, etc and so on are an important part of the marketing mix but you’re in no way capable of doing the heavy lifting of brand building.

    The above sentence is so bad, from its construction to its meaning, I hardly know where to begin. Or end. So, I’ll just deconstruct one bit, the “heavy lifting” claim.
    Selling, also known as “moving the needle” is heavy lifting. Building brands, by contrast, is child’s play.
    Furthermore, if you create marketing communications for a living, you’re job is to sell. To think that clients pay millions of dollars promoting their products and services on TV, radio and in print simply to “build the brand” is a fallacy of epic proportions.