As a goof, a new business strategy and a statement that isn't far from the truth, Maryland-based ad agency MGH placed an ad this week in the Wall Street Journal with the headline, "Sweatshop conditions at America's advertising/PR agencies must end." The ad claims agency personnel are overworked due to decades old practices of cutting overhead and under staffing, that it's an unseen practice and that it negatively effects clients. All true. However, the ad neglects to mention clients no longer value most agencies as the true business partner they once were and refuse to pay them what they're worth, sloughing them off and just another vendor which can be financially bled dry while the client reaps the rewards and profits the agency created for them. Of course, an ad that spoke that truth wouldn't gain much new business.
To be fair, most agencies are not adapting to clients' needs and have refused to step outside the mold that's been in place for a hundred years. So it's no surprise clients have devalued agencies because, in the eyes of the client, they aren't getting what they want from the agency so they aren't going to pay thereby causing the problem this ad so succinctly points out.
This year, there seems to be a fascination with the flushing of toilets during halftime. Like the obsession with national toilet flush stats following M*A*S*H, Scott tissue will leverage the notion that all 90 million Super Bowl viewers will collectively go to the bathroom at the same time with the launch of Halftime Flush, a site touting the dissolvability of Scott toilet paper. On the site, Mike Ditka lends his intense convicibility to Scott's superior toilet tissue and a game allows visitors to match toilets to their flushing sounds. OK, so bathroom humor is always a good standby but we like VIA's simpler approach to the whole halftime flush thing.
Portland, Boston and New York-based Via has put together a nice Year in Review site that highlights the agency's achievements, the work it did for its clients and the people on the agency that did the work. It's taken the typically boring Case Study section of most agency websites and turned it into a piece of entertainment one would actually enjoy viewing.
We've had the pleasure of working for Bob Brennan but when we learned he would be co-presiding over the $300 million Miller media account review, currently handled by Starcom which Bob Brennan founded and has since left, we couldn't help feeling a bit odd about the whole thing.
It seems to us an account review manage by someone who founded an agency involved in the pitch is about as unbiased as a parent judging their own kid in a ice skating competition. Miller says the review is just part of their normal "best practices policy" but as far as we know, best practices doesn't include nepotism.
AdPulp points us to an ad placed in AdWeek by Exclusive Resorts outlining the success of its recent advertising and thanking its agency, DDB Seattle, for the work it did on the account. AdPulp hopes, as do we, that our industry isn't completely made up of selfless, ego-driven cretins and that this isn't some sort of prank by DDB to achieve a clandestine, third-party high-five by placing the ad itself.
It's sort of pointless for an agency to take legal action against a former employee if they end up going to another agency or starting their own agency and a few clients and former employees follow. First, no one forces an employee or a client to shift from the previous agency to the new agency. Agency people are big enough to make that decision on their own. Second, once a client makes the decision to leave, it's not like legal action is going to make them go back. And when the agency decides to somehow legally force an employee to stay when they've decided to leave and join the new agency, that's kind of pointless too. Short of shackles and a police escort, if someone doesn't want to show up for work, there just not going to.
Woe was Donny this past Summer with account losses from Monster, Old Navy, and Revlon not to mention that Speedo picture but things are looking up for his agency Deutsch which, today, was awarded with the return of its former $60 million client IKEA. Most recently, IKEA was with Secret Weapon and has returned to Deutsch without a review. Welcome back, Donny.
When the Carolina Panthers won the right last Sunday to take on the Chicago Bears, Bears fan Kevin Lynch, a partner at Hadrian's Wall agency in Chicago, knew just where to find some action. He emailed David Oakley, the co-CD of Charlotte's BooneOakley. The wager was simple: no points, winner take all. The loser will check their ego at the door and promote the winner's agency.
If Carolina wins, the Hadrian's Wall homepage will inform visitors that BooneOakley is a much better agency and direct people to the BooneOakley site for a week. If Chicago wins, the BooneOakley homepage will inform visitors that Hadrian's Wall is a much better agency and direct people to Hadrian's Wall homepage. The two agencies have even created dueling winners logos to go along with the bet.
Hmm. Perhaps the two agencies are merging and this is just a means to gin up some banter. Or, perhaps, it's it's just inline with an agency that celebrates its fifth anniversary by hosting a party at which two of the partners partake in a spoof wedding.
Coinciding with the launch of China CEO Tom Doctroff's book, Billions: Selling the the New Chinese Consumer, JWT China issued a press release with the headline, "Understanding and Embracing China's Different Worldview Is Main Theme of Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer, by JWT's Tom Doctoroff," which offers 12 facts about the "Confucian Consumer." While the release may seem like yet another harmless attempt by a marketing entity to neatly lump together the traits of billions of people and slap a cute title on it, some who watch the country's culture closer have taken issue with the oversimplification and incorrectness of the 12 facts.
The main complaint is the trotting out of Confucius to "frame the market for American business people" writes the China Herald weblog that doing so "creates the illusion that there is one driving force in the Chinese market you can use as a beacon in an often chaotic situation." In an article on Danwei written by Jeremy Goldkorn who works in the Chinese ad biz, he offers a a point by point analysis of the release and ends with "bullshitting is part of the game in the advertising industry." While we have no idea who's right and who's wrong on this whole Confucian Consumer thing nor are we equipped to make judgement, we do know Goldkorn's statement is as true as the Earth is round.
Advertising Goodness calls our attention to a couple self-promotional ads that McCann-Eriskson created. With imagery that features well known icons, the ads, very simply, make a powerful and convincing statement. We like.