“You Get What You Pay For” Is An Adage For A Reason

Jim Edwards at BNET wrote some things recently meant to provoke and provoke his words have.
Edwards rebuts Jonah Bloom’s recent attack on the procurement officer.

“The idea that clients will turn away from trying to save money on advertising because Ad Age declares it to be untrendy is, of course, ridiculous,” he writes. Edwards then goes on to suggest some interesting ways for brands to save money.

Why are you paying six figure salaries for creative directors? It’s never been easier or cheaper to be “creative.” Free technology gives even the rank amateur access to professional quality production techniques. Perhaps it’s time to regard creatives as mere technicians who take an original concept and reprocess it for different venues, rather than as unique geniuses whose time is priceless.

My reaction is he can’t be serious. Cheap tools of production (and free global distribution via YouTube) don’t make one creative.
The Grumpy Brit has a more strongly worded reaction:

Did I miss something? Can you buy creativity implants now like fake tits or a fucking pacemaker or titanium knees?
When rank amateurs get “creative” with freely available technology, as you suggest, what you end up with is your neighbour’s holiday video. Installing MS Word on your fucking laptop doesn’t mean you’ll be writing Homeric epics anytime soon.

One of Edwards’ other suggestions is to get out of Manhattan. “Even a move to Queens, New Jersey or Portland, Ore., can cut real estate costs dramatically.”
I think we can all agree that clients (like consumers) want more for less today. A brand’s challenge is to find the best creative talent available and then find a way to get the most for their money from that talent. Likewise it’s a creative person’s job to prove they are worth every cent of their high-dollar rate.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. The irony here is that Bloom was speaking to an audience who paid about $1395 each (not including travel costs) to spend the weekend at a luxury resort playing golf and tennis – and even attending a rock concert starring Kevin Bacon. He talks about procurement officers having little marketing experience. Um, didn’t WPP Leader Martin Sorrell start in our business as a finance guy for Saatchi & Saatchi? I thought IPG Leader Michael Roth was also a financial guy. The problem is, too many marketing people have little financial experience – the procurement officers have been called in because of a history of bad spending. At least in the big agencies.
    We talk about creative directors deserving their big salaries. In some cases, it’s totally warranted. But what about the guys pulling in six-figures to produce the standard detergent commercials or macaroni-n-cheese campaigns?
    I don’t agree with him all the time, but Edwards is actually making more sense than Bloom in this scenario.

  2. Sadly anonymous says:

    I think both of these guys are mostly full of crap.
    I love how advertising professionals always so fervently admonish clients in public forums, and then pretend the clients actually listen. If you pick up any piece of business media, it is clear that the bean counters have taken over Corporate America and innovation is no longer a consideration that takes precedence over ultra-efficiency.
    on edwards-
    I agree that new york agencies are overpriced. Clients pay Manhattan prices so they can have the prestige of paying Manhattan prices, not because they get better work.
    Beyond that, edwards clearly does not understand this business very much to claim that some dude living in his Mom’s basement can be the next David Lubars with Youtube and pirated graphics programs. Though HighJive’s point is well-taken about the nonsense of clients paying top-dollar to produce shit work.