Agencies Protect Their Turf Like A Baby Sucks A Binky

bigheads_agency.jpg

BigHeads Founder John Palumbo writes to tell of the trials and tribulations he goes through when trying to offer his services to agencies, many of which view anything other than their own idea as competition. We're just going to let John tell the story in his own words because we get a kick out of how it validates just about every fickle, nervous, running-scared agency mindset we've personally witnessed.

"I thought you'd find it interesting to hear how much bullshit we are running into when we speak to agencies about using BigHeads as a product for their clients As you know...we envision BigHeads to be both client- and agency-friendly (in other words...something clients could use and something agencies could use for their clients). Well...the agency approach is somewhat of a joke."

John continues:

"I can't even begin to tell you how many big ad agencies, PR firms, etc.
contacted us when we launched (a ton of them heard about us because of you). the most senior folks (CEOs, presidents) would bring us in and would LOVE the approach and the process. simply put...they'd "get it" and want to bring it to their clients. then we'd end up in meetings with folks at the VP level, etc. and the bullshit would begin

Now this probably won't surprise you...but some of them would tell us that they can't bring BigHeads to their clients because they felt it would make their own creative process look less effective. We'd try to explain to them that NO client expects an agency to have all the answers/solutions...but they do expect their agency to bring them any and all solutions. We'd further explain that BigHeads is in NO WAY meant to compete with their creative process...it's simply a DIFFERENT approach. Most just couldn't get it...and that was that

At one point...we cleared the "creative" hurdle and a someone (from a big big agency, mind you) actually said, "yeah...but we can't bring a competitor to our clients." I wasn't sure if I should laugh...or cry. a competitor? I wanted to say, "this is something that will make you look good and help solidify your relationship...and how the fuck could we ever compete with you? you're HUGE"

It's funny...agencies are so scared that they might look bad or lose a buck...they are unwilling to bring their clients things that really can help build a brand (even if they can strategically package it...like they can our product). And they wonder why their clients are saying, "fuck it" and starting to look beyond them."

by Steve Hall    Jul-28-06   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Bad   

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Comments



Comments

Well, of course. Everybody knows that Turks make the best copywriters!

Posted by: John on July 28, 2006 11:30 AM

If Big Heads rolls it's eyes at the big agencies not willing to share credit, what about them? Are they willing to remove their name and pretend to be an in-house agency resource?

Posted by: steven on July 28, 2006 1:36 PM

What's "Big Heads"? Is that what I see in commercials where they put an adult head on a kid's body? I hate that. I hope it's not that...

Posted by: Mike on July 28, 2006 1:59 PM

Steven makes a good point...

If Big Heads really wants to be a service to the agency they cannot expect to personally gain recognition for any work they help complete.

Personally I think all the attempted sideswiping of agencies is rendering creative work less valuable to its would-be clients.

Posted by: Sarah on July 28, 2006 2:12 PM

I agree with steven. If these guys are willing to be the 'wizards behind the curtain', then fine, agencies should not be whining.

However, rolling through the bighead site, I would be a little hesitant myself. Can't say I blame the agencies.

Posted by: dave on July 28, 2006 2:12 PM

sounds right to me...credit or $. Those are the choices. No you can't haveboth unless you find a brand in need ---agencies that have won a brand should not have to hear I want "credit"...I've spoken with 199 major brand (1million plus annual brand spend) and 140 media planning agencies in the past three months and this is the consistant message...win your own brand or work with a brands agents and get paid. Most big brands do not want to be bothered in a random-when it suits you to call fashion. Know their window of acceptance for RFPs and calls or court failure. a bit like raising with 2d/3c (offsuit) in a poker game---yea, you could win big, but the odds are against you.

Posted by: adgoose on July 28, 2006 2:22 PM

I think that this company can be successfully integrated to an agency's offering while maintaining a thin layer of transparency. That layer becomes thinner as the Bighead brand itself establishes itself as a viable, attractive vehicle for creative ideas.

If the Bighead brand evolves to become known as a company that operates best through these strategic partnerships, the agencies that are the early adopters will benefit and ultimately win.

Posted by: Sharon on July 28, 2006 3:23 PM

Wait a minute! I am suppose to sit down with my client and tell them we really aren't what they think we are, and we need these guys (Big Heads) to pull this off, and (not spoken but implied) BTW, maybe you ought to deal with the "real experts" direct and save some money?

Posted by: Lane on July 28, 2006 3:36 PM

Fact: More and more clients are looking for the leader in a given field to accomplish their goals. They are more willing to break up their advertising and marketing dollars and manage multiple vendors to ensure they are getting the best work from a proven source.

So, agencies can sit back and hope that Big Heads doesn't make a name for itself or become a leader in "out-of-the-box" thinking; or they can be the ones that brings this resource to their clients showing that they are only interested in what's best for the client.

Handled correctly, this shouldn't lose them business, but grow their business.

Posted by: Scott on July 28, 2006 4:24 PM

john palumbo here (founder of bigheads). couple comments re the posts...

first, we are working with some brands directly including: Braun (P&G), Ramada Worldwide, Remy USA and Sony (to name a few). more to come on the programs we're developing with them (sparked by our network of bigheads).

in addition, we are working successfully with some agencies (that part of my note to steve wasn't included in the article). in each case, we work with the agency to determine the best way to bring the bigheads offering to their clients. some position us as a "strategic partner," while others would rather keep us "behind the scenes."

overall, bigheads is just a different way to generate content. clients are already out there talking to TV producers (hell...mark burnett is seen as a "marketing genius"), tattoo artists (ie, Nike and "Mr. Cartoon"), etc. to get a different perspective. bigheads is a way to give you access to those types of folks (a lot of them at once).

simple as that...

Posted by: john on July 28, 2006 4:30 PM

As a director, I learned early on that no matter how much input I had, the following rules apply:
A: If it's successful, it's because of the agency.
B: If it fails, it's the supplier's fault.
C: If I'm in an agency, no idea is a good idea unless it's my idea.

Now, as a once-again Creative Director (with a WAY different perspective than the first time around), I'm trying to get my folks to see the added value that comes from choosing the right suppliers, and...here's a crazy thought...actually letting them contribute something.

Bottom line with creative: best idea wins. Bottom line with suppliers: we got you into the dance - so, don't take our date.

Posted by: ernie mosteller [TypeKey Profile Page] on July 28, 2006 9:27 PM

I used to be a client and now I run an agency. As a client, I'd love BigHeads (hell, I'd love any fresh thinking that's plugged in and novel). Because all I cared about was growing my brand. As an agency head, I think BigHeads should go to hell, because only I know what's best for me, um, I mean, best for my clients.

Posted by: Jim on July 29, 2006 4:57 PM

this Big Heads thing is so yesterday. Let's just let every person who is breathing air in the universe submit their Big Ideas to a resevoir site, and then we can talk ad nauseum about which idea seems to best encapsulate that Brand image? We can hem and haw and be totally borderless about our thinking FOREVER. it'll be so cool!

Posted by: jeannie on July 29, 2006 6:40 PM

BigHeads is probably ahead of their time. Actually, that statement is just being polite. The company needs to brainstorm on better ways to position themselves.

If this talent bank is already dealing directly with clients, theyíve effectively eliminated themselves from potential work because of conflicts, especially if one of their clients is P&G.

The secrecy behind their program is rather disturbing too. The list of participants is extraordinarily unimpressive when no names are attached. Any big agency could probably boast that their current staffers moonlight the gigs listed by BigHeads participants. Oh, and the Gentlemenís Club Dancer is a real draw.

Canít imagine there are ANY big agencies interested in BigHeads. Like it or not, most big agencies are desperately seeking new ways to bill existing clients. Itíll be tough to convince any of these dinosaurs that they can profit by freelancing BigHeads.

The other sad truth: No oneís gonna be interested in BigHeads until they produce something tangible. A creative collective with zero creative to show is a tough sell, given that our business has always been driven by executed concepts.

It's the classic ad biz Catch-22. Nobody wants to hire you unless you've got proven results. But you can't generate proven results if no one will hire you.

Good luck, BigHeads.

Posted by: HighJive on July 30, 2006 1:47 AM

I'm entirely open to the idea that "big ideas" can come from anywhere and anyone. But I do need some sort of proof, not just promises.

To quote the site as it discusses Bigheads' work, "...it's not the typical marketing ideas you're used to seeing". Where is the proof?

I hire freelancers and would be highly skeptical of anyone who won't show me samples on their site, no matter how interesting or different they seem on the surface. They claim to have clients, so there must be something....

Posted by: theo kie on July 31, 2006 2:41 AM

being a supplier for agencies is hard work. So what, we choose to be the supplier. If you're not interested in working with them (having them as client) that work with someone else.

We're building a model around agencies at the moment. We intend to offer agencies a creative and practicle service that they are supposed to benefit from. Why complain when it's difficult. I'm the supplier, and I know my place.

Posted by: marcusbrown on July 31, 2006 12:03 PM

Just choose, be freelance creatives or a boutique agency.

Posted by: rat on August 1, 2006 2:59 PM

You all just got suckered into the amazing Palumbo alterate reality PR machine!

The 'trials and tribulations' that John is talking about are not even true.

The whole article is a fabrication to make it seem like Bigheads is hobnobbing with bigwigs in the "top Fortune 50" and all the CEOs get it, but VPs don't so if you are reading this, and you don't want to be one of those "just don't get it" VPs, then you better get hip quick. Oh, and if you are a CEO and haven't heard about Bigheads until now, then you better call them, because your VPs just don't get it and are ruining your business. He probably won;t just float this story here, but in Adweek, Brandweek, Businessweek, etc. Stay tuned!

This is just a rehash of the same old complaint that every agency person has had forever that the client just doesn't understand, only now John says the CEOs DO get it but their underlings don't. Jeez, how original.

What EVEERYBODY gets is that you either work directly with clients or you work through their agencies. Whoever pays you is your client, and therefore what you produce is a work for hire. So if you want to work with agencies you have to make choices on what is more important, getting paid or getting credit.

And I agree completely that the whole idea is little "yesterday" because it seems like they've just replaced the standard "agency know-it-alls" with "thought leaders" which is another way of saying somebody who thinks they know better than you do. Considering that Youtube and Myspace are the two largest internet properties right now, it seems that the REAL BIG HEADS are already out there sharing what they think about the world for free. At least for now. This is the real story now, not replacing one set of experts for another, but empowering average individuals to share their opinions and desires about what kind of marketing they care about and how and when they want it.

Posted by: ding on August 3, 2006 10:58 AM

You all just got suckered into the amazing Palumbo alterate reality PR machine!

The 'trials and tribulations' that John is talking about are not even true.

The whole article is a fabrication to make it seem like Bigheads is hobnobbing with bigwigs in the "top Fortune 50" and all the CEOs get it, but VPs don't so if you are reading this, and you don't want to be one of those "just don't get it" VPs, then you better get hip quick. Oh, and if you are a CEO and haven't heard about Bigheads until now, then you better call them, because your VPs just don't get it and are ruining your business. He probably won;t just float this story here, but in Adweek, Brandweek, Businessweek, etc. Stay tuned!

This is just a rehash of the same old complaint that every agency person has had forever that the client just doesn't understand, only now John says the CEOs DO get it but their underlings don't. Jeez, how original.

What EVEERYBODY gets is that you either work directly with clients or you work through their agencies. Whoever pays you is your client, and therefore what you produce is a work for hire. So if you want to work with agencies you have to make choices on what is more important, getting paid or getting credit.

And I agree completely that the whole idea is little "yesterday" because it seems like they've just replaced the standard "agency know-it-alls" with "thought leaders" which is another way of saying somebody who thinks they know better than you do. Considering that Youtube and Myspace are the two largest internet properties right now, it seems that the REAL BIG HEADS are already out there sharing what they think about the world for free. At least for now. This is the real story now, not replacing one set of experts for another, but empowering average individuals to share their opinions and desires about what kind of marketing they care about and how and when they want it.

Posted by: ka-thunk on August 3, 2006 10:58 AM

Ding,

Oh, I donít think anyone got suckered. I think weíre all smart enough to realize that very few people read these comments. And even fewer act on them.

Also, I donít think Palumbo is as smart as you think he is. Most of us recognize his commentary is a lot of desperate whining that may ultimately backfire. Based on the comments here, it probably already has backfired.

Posted by: HighJive on August 3, 2006 11:17 AM

Letís take a look at Big Head from Biz standpoint:

1.0 Technology circa 1999 RFQ engine sends email to people in network (focus group) asking them to respond about product idea etc.
1.1 Technology not proprietary thus any agency can replicate work here in about a NY minute.
1.2 Network of big heads not proprietary any agency that does tons of focus groups could have a network 1000 times bigger in about three months.
The 1.0 Conclusion technology or network position non defensible

2.0 Revenue generators for Big Head
2.1 Billing the client for big head service
2.2 Trying to convert the big head service (some bs feasibility study or some other marketing jargon for long report trying to justify your bill) into more billing ie an implementation of some experimental marketing
2.3 Customer acquisition cost are high thus you need to bill bill bill
2.4 I bet you his big clients that he is bragging about have signed up for free to try service out and are now pissed he is running around associating their brand with some startup that will be closed in several months.
The 3.0 conclusion not enough rev generators to make any real money or a real biz.

Johnís got one thing right he has the biggest head of them all. John perhaps on a web blog you should not come off ass such an ass complete with your I know more than everybody CEO agree with me but VP donít and the CEO canít get their subordinates (their vpís) to implement solutions that are good for company bullshit. What I think you meant is secretary thought it was great then I got my ass handed to me by the VPís who did not want to hand over the companyís prized assets their customers.

Posted by: kissmyass on August 4, 2006 1:04 AM

John Palumbo is very smart, and he's gorgeous too. He knows what he's talking about and he's not whining. I wish i could let him know how hot i think he is somehow. He knows who i am but it could never be. (Sigh)

Posted by: Anonymous on December 21, 2007 2:37 PM

John Palumbo is very smart, and he's gorgeous too. He knows what he's talking about and he's not whining. I wish i could let him know how hot i think he is somehow. He knows who i am but it could never be. (Sigh)

Posted by: Anonymous on December 21, 2007 2:38 PM




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