Saturday, November 27, 2010
Over the last few years what started as a whisper has gradually turned into a social media enhanced roar – the advertising agency is a dinosaur and it’s on its last legs!
I do believe I may even have said it myself once or twice. But is it really the case?
Many of the ad agency doubters are people who are not from what have come to be called “traditional” agencies. And the fact that they bandy about the term traditional says a great deal I think.
Why? Because there is nothing traditional about an agency in 2010.
Actually that’s not completely true. There are many procedures and processes that have been used for years that work and work well. But when it comes to creative thinking and problem solving there really is no such thing as a traditional approach.
The idea of making a 30 second television ad may be traditional, but the answer to that brief is sure to be anything but. And that I think is where the naysayers and doubters of agency land come unstuck.
Agencies are in the ideas business. End of story.
Sometimes those ideas appear in what is known as traditional media, sometimes not. The primary focus is, and always should be, the best way to reach a consumer. This should be dictated by the consumer themselves, not the agency.
So if a 28 to 35 year old woman loves watching Junior Masterchef, and your product or service is targeted at that consumer group, then the creation of a TV spot to run during the show is a must have. That’s not traditional. That’s common sense.
But what about digital, cry the naysayers. Wouldn’t it be smarter to target her using digital media? What about a Facebook group or some sort of social media presence?
Well guess what – so called traditional agencies do that stuff too.
Maybe 10 years ago they didn’t. In fact, they probably weren’t doing it 5 years ago either. But these days, any agency that’s looking to survive into the 21st century offers a hell of a lot more than a corridor of hip young things pumping out television ads.
A couple of months ago I sat on the direct marketing jury for the MADC Awards. The category was dominated by what we used to refer to as mainstream agencies.
And according to one of my art directors at Wunderman, the same thing happened when he judged at this year’s ADMA Awards.
Which is proof, if proof is what the naysayers need, that the big agencies are perhaps a little more relevant than the people taking pot shots at them may realise.
Of course they’re still making great TV ads, they probably always will, but there’s so much more to a “traditional” agency than that. As well as moving into the direct marketing space, the big guys are making serious inroads into digital as well.
Don’t believe me?
Well it was Australia’s oldest agency that won the pitch earlier this year for this country’s biggest piece of digital business. And they did it in conjunction with a 50 year old direct marketing agency.
Yet the doubters and naysayers, with their blogs and twitter accounts, continue to proclaim the impending extinction of agency dinosaurs.
To be completely honest, I have no idea what the future holds for advertising agencies. But unlike the dinosaurs way back when, I very much doubt that they will become extinct.
In fact, I suspect they will continue to evolve, just as the landscape in which they operate does.
So much so that 50 years from now, people will look back and wonder how on earth anyone could have come up with the term traditional agency.
Bernbach broke tradition. So too did David Ogilvy and Lester Wunderman. May the agencies they created continue to do so.