Ad Age Pedals Impending Doom

Bob Garfield is trying to scare us with his “Chronicles of the Media Revolution” series in which he explores ongoing technological upheaval across the media and marketing industries.

Perhaps you believe that vast structures on which vast societies and vast economies depend do not easily lose their primacy. Perhaps you believe that the TV commercial and magazine spread — and radio spot and newspaper classified — are forever and immutable, like the planets orbiting the sun. Good for you.
Now, say hello to Pluto — the suddenly former planet. Forever and immutable, it turns out, are subject to demotion. This could be grim news for the agency business, which continues its erratic Pluto-like orbit around marketing budgets as if unaware that it has lost its stature — and its relevance is next to go. In due course, you shall see how circumstances have conspired to threaten its place on the cosmic map altogether.

But David Jones, CEO of Euro RSCG is not hiding from the big bad new media monster.

“The huge thing for our industry is that, actually, what we have been great at for the last 50 years, and what we will be great at for the next 50 years, is developing and delivering entertaining, engaging, short-format content. And in a world where your screens get smaller and attention spans get kind of shorter and shorter … is where we need to focus. The fundamental thing that our industry is focused on is delivering brilliant ideas, and if we do, people will engage with them.”

Garfield believes agencies are ill equipped to make the transition to content creation. Sure, the ones in denial are poorly equipped. But many agencies are already well down the “adapt or die” path. I don’t understand the need to paint ad people as stooges incapable and unwilling to change. It seems to me that Jones is much nearer the truth—ad people are creative, hence they will find creative solutions to this problem and the next and the next. It’s our job.



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.