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I once heard someone leading a brainstorm say, “There’s no such thing as a bad idea…”. Ever since that, I’ve been sure that brainstorms are a bad idea.
Here are some other bad ideas: square wheels, sunglasses made out of cheese, umbrellas fashioned from toilet paper. Suggesting these ideas in the context of a brainstorm would not make them good ideas. To use some technical terminology, they’d still be crap and pointless.
If, in years gone by, you’ve read my blog around this time of year, you’ll know that I rather enjoy the festival that is the Super Bowl. The ads – great or terrible – are always talking points, whether you’re part of the advertising tribe or part of the audience. So, if the Super Bowl is an advertising holiday, then it is also a reflection of the shifting media landscape, a petri dish where we see not only creative that is worthy of being called ‘creative’ but also a microcosm of that shifting world of brand and comms. Read More
“….the main responsibility”, asserts the brilliant Ian Priest in the IPA’s booklet A is for alliances: Less pitches, more partnership, “lies with client marketing and procurement”.
He was writing about the quality of client-agency relationships, and – in particular – the way that new business is conducted. This is all part of the IPA’s laudable attempt to address this significant challenge for the sector.
The problem is, it’s not just the IPA’s grammar that doesn’t quite hit the spot. The content of the booklet is, to steal from the language of the business schools, necessary but not sufficient.
Because whilst it would be naïve to suggest that client behaviour is irrelevant, in the main the fault lies with us; the agencies.
In 2013, the pantomime baddies in agency-land were GSK, who allegedly asked those pitching for a place on their global digital roster to offer not just a percentage rebate but a sign-on bonus too, and Premier Foods, who were accused of trying something similar.
“How dare they?” we thundered, collectively; “who do they think they are?”
Secretly, of course, the smarter people in agencies know the answer. But to admit to that is to admit complicity in a decades-long, deeply-entrenched and ongoing strategic blunder, leading us, unceremoniously, to where we are today.
It’s true, of course, that the structure of our industry doesn’t help: there is no ‘barrier to entry’, for a start. So for as long as it’s cooler to say “I run an agency” than “I work in a big corporation’s marketing department”, the supply of agencies is always likely outstrip demand for them.
But consider then what agencies choose to layer into the mix over and above that. Because the industry that GSK, Premier Foods and their counterparts all too often see:
- seems content to accept a transactional, order-taking set up with junior channel managers, as opposed to developing longstanding, senior partnerships
- talks endlessly about ‘insights’ and ‘thinking’ but too often delivers irrelevant and identikit thought leadership
- hires too many of the wrong kind and too few of the right kind of people
- jumps gleefully through ever-increasing procurement hoops, professing incessant ‘appreciation’ and ‘gratefulness’ along the way
- slashes fees at the drop of a hat
- does all its work up front, on-spec – and for free
Would any of us, in our personal lives, afford any respect to any business or person that presented themselves in such a fashion?
A colleague of mine often speculates about what would happen to the dental practice that took an agency approach to business development – endlessly showing prospective patients their qualifications, certificates, toothy photos of previous happy cutomers etc, as opposed to simply prodding and asking, pointedly: ‘does that hurt?’.
According to the 175 participants in the IPA’s ‘Alliance Adaptathon’, the word that best expresses ‘win-win’ relationships between agencies and clients is ‘trust’.
Trust is engendered through mutual respect.
And mutual respect, in turn, depends on self-respect.
Unless and until agencies are ready to demonstrate – visibly, noisily if needs be – the value that we ourselves place on our abilities and our skills, why should we should we expect anything different from our clients?
The IPA’s efforts are great. I support them and appreciate them. But the real answer lies much, much closer to home.
Because ultimately, and with the greatest of apologies to William Henley -
We are the masters of our fate;
We are the captains of our souls.
Tash Whitmey is CEO of Havas EHS
Emotion is a necessary ingredient of almost all decisions, and it is especially vital in this era of product proliferation—a time when brands must home in on their poignant appeal to claim a share of wallet. Consumers are spoiled for choice and, while a rational claim is easy to accept or reject, an emotional sweet spot is hard to fight against and easy to embrace. Competing on rational elements such as price is not a healthy long-term strategy; consumers want brands that are going to make their lives better. This requires that brands develop meaningful relationships built on trust and dynamism. For this to work, there needs to be a value exchange.
Ariel King is content strategist at Arena
With every new trend in marketing there’s always a scramble of marketers trying to conquer the trend first. This year, content has taken the claim for Buzzword Bingo 2013, but one segment of content is sure to follow suit as more brands warm to the idea.
Prankvertising, pranking and filming an unsuspecting audience for what will later become branded content, is emerging in other markets as the next big trend. And with this trend, comes the scramble of others trying to mimic or reinvent the art of pranking.
Richard Sharp is managing director at ValueClick Media UK
Fifteen to twenty years ago, the concept of an ad network was about as new as it gets. Ad networks arrived about the same time or just before Google emerged and began to commercialise search.
By understanding how audiences moved across networks of publisher inventory and providing brands with an easy way to reach huge numbers of eye balls efficiently online, ad networks were to become hot property and grew into global entities. Google even felt the need to buy one.
Nick Jefferson is managing director at Gyro London
The beer you drink on holiday never tastes as good as the beer you drink after a hard day’s work.
Don’t get me wrong. Beer on holiday is still fun and it still hits the spot, but it ain’t the same. Because you haven’t earned it. I think the same might be true of advertising.