Desperately Seeking Clients With The Guts To Become Famous

Peter Holmes of Reason Partners in Toronto was reflecting on the special relationship Bill Bernbach and crew had with Robert C. Townsend, CEO of Avis Rent A Car in the 1960s.
Mr. Townsend hired Bill Bernbach’s agency, DDB, on one condition put forward by Bill himself, “…run every ad we write where we tell you to run it.” If you do that Bernback promised, “you’ll have every art director and copywriter in my shop moonlighting on your account.”
Of course, anyone who works in the ad business today knows that’s not how things work. Far from it. Here’s what Holmes has to say about our sorry state of affairs.

Today is a gutless age.
Add fragmented media; an overabundance of useless metrics; everybody and their mother tilting the CMO’s ear; confusion over terms, semantics and marketing language in general; gimmicks; quick fixes rather than brand building; political correctness – and what do you get?

And fear, he adds. Which is funny, because the one thing a brand manager has to fear is irrelevance–the very thing advertising can help solve.



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.