The waves of change are here. Consequently, people are searching for their sea legs.
Ad people are also painting pictures of dark and/or dreamy futures. Here’s one picture that is not pleasing to my senses…
McKinney CEO Joe Maglio, writing in Ad Age, believes there’s a compelling need for trophies, no matter what:
Many of the talented creative thinkers in our industry look forward to holding their work up against that of their peers, and with a little luck, getting recognized for all of the effort they’ve put into making a difference for their clients. And while advertising and media budgets are getting cut for now, there was still a lot of great work from the previous six months that should have been given a chance to shine, not to mention some of the smart and touching creative that we’ve seen in the past few weeks.
I’ve been sitting on this for a few days. I wanted to let it marinate.
A Lion in the lobby is a nice thing to have. The Integer Group had one in its trophy case while I was there. Clients want to know they’re working with the best, and a Lion or Pencil or recognition from CA is currency. Literally, it’s money, for the agency and the team who goes from a team with lots of potential to a team with a Lion.
How freaking tone-deaf is Maglio’s treatise? Not because of COVID-19. Because ad pros who are part of the awards show circuit continue to show the world what matters most to them—trophies that they pay damn good money for.
Tannenbaum Serves An Ace
George Tannenbaum knows a sick industry when he sees one:
George ____________, Tannenbaum or Orwell?
— Mike Hallaron (@HallaronAgency) April 7, 2020
Correct! Tannenbaum goes on to argue that ad people are agents and that agents, by definition, make their clients (not themselves) into stars. Why is this hard to grasp for anyone at any level of the ad business? We’re talking about the basics here.
Who Exactly Is Prepared To Pick Up the Pieces?
Ian David says it’s time for the ad industry to return to its roots and to place value on big ideas again.
Big ideas require big thinkers. Lateral minds with the ability to delve into unexplored places, open a new door and say, “This way, follow me.” Ad agencies used to be stacked with these people. Today, not so much. Many were brutally culled when the drive to cut costs at all costs began around 15 years ago. Being slightly older and having the audacity to turn 40 didn’t help either.
But they’re out there.
Freelancing solo or teamed in networks, they’re as good as they ever were. And come the Fall, or whenever this nightmarish shit-show passes, an eye for a fresh angle is going to be very much back in vogue. Let’s use them and harness what they have to offer. Given the chance, they’ll answer the call.
David is incredibly optimistic about the need for senior talent. He is also making the right call. The need has been there for some time, and now with COVID-19’s deep disruption, the need for people who can work advertising problems to a successful conclusion, fast and without friction, is greater than ever.
I like where David is coming from. As one of these lost creatives, I’d merely like to add that, “Given the chance, they’ll answer the call” is passive. I can only speak for myself on this, but I am not going to wait around for the dawning of Advertising’s Aquarius.
There’s always a customer or client if/when you have the right product or service, at the right price. Even now. Advertising services have been hard to afford and hard to buy for decades. Perhaps, the pandemic-led shift in the marketplace will lead to new ways to deliver the strategic thinking and creative outputs that clients need, but in hyper-efficient and affordable ways.
Not including production, how fast can a junior, mid-level, or senior team make a new ad campaign of merit?
If it takes months, or even weeks, that’s a problem not solved. Thinking on one’s feet, adjusting on the fly, knowing what works and what to discard…these are the intangibles that experienced ad-makers bring to the job.
I work fast and my creative partners do too, because working fast is working smart. We’re all business people helping other business people succeed. Thus, there’s no time or money to waste. Not today, and not tomorrow.