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January 30, 2007



Here's the Chevy Tahoe story which I forgot to link to...



we all know that creating ads is easier without the creative department. hence 'the account man ad.' creating decent ads, however, frequently does require their involvement.

but once we move beyond traditional advertising, the role for the creative department becomes less clear. there is absolute requirement for creativity. but a pair of crazy dudes brought up on tv and poster ads frequently aren't the people to help shape this. rather, creative and strategic thinkers can develop a central idea and then execute with specialists in any given channel - events, online, mobile, film, print etc.

the best creatives can contribute to this thinking, just like the best planners can contribute to the creativity. but the classic 'creative team' will continue knocking out tv, print and poster ads until clients stop buying them.

some interesting thoughts on this topic on adliterate, where the argument goes that advertising agencies started as media agencies, and the wheel has turned full circle:



"the classic 'creative team' will continue knocking out tv, print and poster ads until clients stop buying them"...in my experience (admittedly less than yours and john's), creative teams deliver whatever you ask of them, so surely the responsibility for identifying the correct genre / medium / platform for that creativity lies with account men, planners and media buyers, not creatives?

on a separate note, i posted twice on this thread yesterday with fairly innocuous points of information. my posts have disappeared. here's hoping it was just a technical glitch and not the introduction of censorship.


surely that's the exact point made in the suggestion of outsourcing all creative. is the future strategic comms agencies (that would include a creative director) that generate a central proposition and idea, then brief it out to a range of creative third parties - directors, scriptwriters, designers, PR, game developers, digital specialists, as well as tv/print creative teams - who then execute in their specialist channel? otherwise we're expecting a single team to excel in all fields. if do we get to a stage where we do as much, or even more non-traditional comms than traditional, what would be the point of a large and expensive in-house traditional creative dept?


Having recently attended the Annual European Online Advertising Forum and come out of there thinking we are all a bit f*****, I thought I would add my two pence worth.

Whilst the bigger agencies around us are slowly heading down the path towards diversifying their offering, there is already an agency which offers the ‘alternative fork’ marketing solution. Check out: www.myagencyuk.com
The intro to the site has a clip of a guy banging his head against the desk. ‘Frustrated by your advertising agency?’ it says, ‘Why not make your own?’ I think we should be worried, not least because companies with personal pronouns before their name have done pretty well for themselves. MyAgency is not quite the online business model John described – but it ain’t far off. It offers made to measure media and creative solutions to business problems by defining the strategic platform and then sourcing in the expertise needed. No major overheads, no ulterior motive for an agency’s recommendations, flexible, fast moving and truly through the line – in short, at least in theory, it’s a client’s wet dream. It’s still pretty small fry (which is actually part of its philosophy – small being fast moving and all), and only time will tell whether it will work, but having tripled year 1 turnover last year (and predicting the same result for this year), and some big brands on its books (Malibu, Be, Clinique)suffice to say that it’s one to watch.


As an ex-agency type and now a client type, it is really interesting to look at the ways in which the different agencies that we employ go through the process of looking at their respective businesses.

The reality of the mega-groups, including the WPP monolith that owns Grey's little soul, is that things are looked at purely and simply in terms of the financials - advertising is simply a means of generating good numbers for shareholders. Sir Shortman will proclaim that he loves creativity and that it is the lifeblood of all his agencies, blah blah blah - but the reality is that it is the inconvenient, hard-to-manage bit that comes between him and his numbers.

Add to this the fact that most marketeers now answer to finance types (either as controllers of CEOs), all that most marketeers care about is the numbers - it is what we are measured on, so all but the bravest of marketeers will default to the safe, sure-to-hit-the-numbers-even-if it's-a-creative-dog route so that they meet performance objectives and get bonuses (often wasted on shitty BMWs, chavvy Breitlings and crap suits if most marketing conferences are anything to go by)

At risk of being on-brief (see John, I did listen a little bit all those years ago), the real problem that I see for creatives and creativity in traditional agencies - irrespective of the fork they choose to follow - is that, in a world driven by the numbers, MOST creative-types sees these numbers as a dirty thing that they will not sully their hands with. As, traditionally, the cult of the creative within agencies has led planners and suits to also partially worship at this anti-numeric demigod, I believe that the fundamental problem with the traditional agency, and its creative department, is that the model of 'creative-is-king' is dead. Deceased. It is an ex-model.

My suggestion is that the whole model of agencies needs to be stripped back down to zero and rebuilt to take into account all of the elements that John's original post points to. In a world dominated by numbers, the post-rationalisation approach of creativity-led business impact as is often demonstrated in most industry awards can not really be sustained for terribly much longer.

Some digital agencies have done the numbers-up thing relatively well. Many of the DM agencies have done it. The media agencies are doing it faster than anyone else as they witness the erosion of their numbers from 'traditional' media and the rise of 'alternative' media.

However, most advertising agencies are taking the King Canute approach of trying to tell the rising tide to turn back...

I love advertising - most of the time - and I wish that advertising agencies would breathe deeply and jump into the process of fundamentally rebuilding the model of how how they make money so that this long drawn out debate of the 'death of advertising' would just sod off and be replaced by something more interesting.

Jack Welch, super-CEO, used to drive his business by the idea of destroying his own businesses before someone else did. Isn't it time advertising - and your creative departments - did the same?



I think the scarier scenario is where current brand consultancies, who by the way are keeping a very low profile and that in itself we should be worrying about, take over the traditional advertising role of brand guardianship, and media agencies deliver media solutions with creativity at its heart!
Maybe I am being pessimistic but unless we dramatically change the way we deliver to Clients from a strategic POV but also in terms of media neutral solutons (I now want to gag at this point) we will end up all redundant and uligising about how great it was many years ago.
The fundamental and most immediate issue is how do we get our creative dept to start thinking outside just a TV script but to communications ideas. Once we overcome this herdle we will then be in a better place to deliver true solutions to our client's business.
We still have a chance to lead this before small little geeks come and ruin our industry and I agree it will need to come from planners and account people to lead this charge.
PS huge apologise for numerous spelling mistakes in the text, cannot seem to make spell check work!


Everything that you have said you are worried about is already happening, Arianna - except getting your beloved creative department to think beyond TV.

As for your 'small little geeks' - they have already come in, they are making more money than ad agencies (why do you think Sir Shortman is reducing his exposure to traditional ad agencies within the WPP portfolio?) and they are changing 'your industry' faster than you can imagine...

It may be too late for wake up time.


Sooner or later we'll have to confront e creatives with the honest answer to the question: do we need creativity?
Less and less.
We need effectiveness, and we can use creativity to gain more effectiveness.
But if buying adsense from google, or using wordofmouth communities, becomes more effective than the cannes-material tv ad, say goodbye to creative ads. Actually, say goodbye to your salary, as well.
So we better find way to redo our business from scratch, and put our best effort into it.
Right now we're in the middle of the way between producers and consumers. What if they realize that they really don't need us?

Outsource Call Center

Surely that's the exact point made in the suggestion of outsourcing all creative.

Ben Cliff


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