Step Up to the Drafting Table

Alan Wolk wants to be an architect, not a builder. Me too.

Years ago, when I worked at the legendary Anderson & Lembke, Steve Trygg (who started the shop) was fond of saying that “an ad agency can be the contractor or it can be the architect. And you always want to be the architect.”

Wolk argues that typically ad men and women are not architects today.

We’ve turned ourselves into the contractors. The guys who make the ads. Who cares about the strategy, who cares about the actual product, if the ads are funny and clever and likely to win awards?
And clients get that. They get that in spades.
That’s why they turn to PR agencies like Edelman and strategy shops like Naked and even management consulting firms like Bain and McKinsey to do all the work their agencies should be doing. Because they know that too many agencies can’t even be bothered to use Google to see if the product actually lives up to the brief.

Harsh, but true. I’m so close to it, I sometimes forget just how clueless ad people can be. The fakery at Cannes was a good reminder. And there are many more reminders in our day-to-day existence in this business.
Perhaps, you’d care to share a “Yes, we’re clueless” story with us.



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.