Nay Say All Day To Keep Ad People At Bay

Do you get tired of reading about how the ad agency business sucks, and how no one wants to work in advertising any longer due to the long hours, low pay and lack of prestige?

Personally, I see many of these sour takes on the industry as little more than ill-informed attempts to fill space. Digiday is running one of these “bitch and moan” sessions right now.

Managing Editor, Shareen Pathak, posits:

All industries have their fair share of poseurs, but advertising is somewhat unique in that, by all accounts, it has a surplus of them.

Is there evidence to back up her claim? She’s not presenting any. Nevertheless, Pathak continues her argument:

Advertising is unique in that it is a business that very few aspire to entering. The creatives in agencies are stereotyped as truly wanting to be direct movies or write the next great American novel. Instead, they’re trying to get people to buy Frosted Flakes over Cheerios. The great gauze of “creativity” serves to fog over the crass commercial nature of this work.

There is more to the piece, but I suggest we stop while we’re behind.

For a much more interesting and positive take on the industry, and how agencies can restructure to thrive in today’s media climate, see Ad Age’s short video session with Wendy Clark, president-CEO of North America for DDB.

Clark says, “We operate in a micro, macro, and mega modes. The agency switches on differently depending on what we’re working on. The agency doesn’t lean toward a Tweet the same way the same way we lean toward a Super Bowl spot.” Clark also makes a case for “deep integration,” wherein the agency makes room in the room for all parties, including media partners, partner agencies, and clients.

I think anyone working in Marcom today would do well to ask if you are part of the problem or part of the solution. If people in your agency are slumped over their desk, that could be a sign of more than bad posture.

Agency leaders like Wendy Clark (a former client-side marketing at Coca-Cola) are asking the right questions and assembling the right teams to find the best answers. By focusing on the solution you help to create the right intentions, which changes culture. It’s the difference between generosity and a lack thereof. The generous ad person is there with new ideas to old problems and is excited to bring the new ideas forward into the world. You won’t find one in every corner office, but there are thousands of people in the business who are dedicated to craft and to telling better brand-sponsored stories.

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 now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.