Monday, July 24, 2006

Not alone out there......

I just saw Dave Clutterbuck's latest opinion column for AdNews and I have to say that I AGREE!!

From what I can see the Big Idea is like the flash of light from a magician’s wand – Divert the attention away from what is really going on while you work furiously to pull a rabbit out of the hat (which NO ONE was expecting)...... sure.....

Is the industry pursuit of the Big Idea really a tacit admission that given the volatile and variable state of the advertising industry these days that the veneer of “value” that some of the agencies used to provide in a structured, oligopolised “old world adland” is starting to wear through. Is it that some of those agencies that have always held themselves out to be “oh so creative” have actually been found wanting in a market where the old rules no longer apply and you actually have to be…. dare I say it…. creative?

I sit in amazement as the industry reacts to change, as Dave rightly says, with a rush to becoming Experts In Everything ("EiE" - I've created a new TLA!!!) – the perspective I see is that the integrated agency of the future is going to be switched on, plugged in, juiced up and able to deal with all the marketing needs of the cyber-generation*. Trouble is, it is a little harder than that and the industry had better wake up.

There is a potential credibility storm brewing as agencies race to enter the digital services markets Рpurporting to their clients that they can handle all things online. This naivet̩ is fostered by the assumption that the internet (and increasingly mobiles) is a creative medium and so surely must be the domain of the ad agency, but the real concern is that this is a genuine collision of marketing and technology and it is all a little harder than that.

You can integrate the offer / message with the ability to act on the offer / message which means that commerce is going on – and commerce means money is changing hands and money changing hands means that there is real business risk, first hand. Campaigns are connected to business systems and this creates an opportunity for the bad guys out there… and agencies aren’t generally equipped to deal with this.

There are stories out there even today; the agency who launched a campaign for a FINANCIAL INSTITUTION earlier this year which was hacked in under an hour. No money was stolen but surely such a compromise cuts to the very core of the FI’s value proposition – security, safety and trust. (by the way, the creative was spectacular….) We see tonnes of executions which don’t comply with the privacy laws (those pesky laws), aren’t accessible and are just badly designed. I have first hand experience of an agency supplying creative for an online campaign which was 76MB (please upload this for us), designed for an Apple Mac super screen (over 1900 pixels wide) and with no navigation in or out…. Just amateur really. It takes years to develop the skills and capability in this space and throwing money at a room full of geeks won’t achieve any shortcuts.

So the purpose of this rant – in these times of change, PLEASE Agency Colleagues, divert your attentions to understanding the science and structure of marketing in the new world and avoid the rush to EiE … there are plenty of very clever SPECIALIST companies out there… get to know and love them!!

* Cyber everything is a term which must be due for re-propogation.
PS> I am thinking that to take on this trend I should start an agency called ... see if I can capture EVERY buzz-word....

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