Monday, August 10, 2009

Publicis buys Razorfish.

Since I don't have an advanced degree in finance, an MBA or any particular actuarial skill, I can't for the life of me figure out why I should care that the fourth-largest holding company has added another web shop to its roster. To be clear, Razorfish is now part of Vivaki, which is a group of digital holdings within a holding company. In other words, not only do we have holding companies, we have holding companies for holding companies.

I don't know about you, but I'm corn-fused.

Years ago the AAAA's used to publish a "red book" that listed all their member agencies. In pre-internet days if you were looking for an advertising job, this book was a convenient compendium. (You never wanted to be "caught" with one because it indicated you were "looking." So a partner and I pasted the cover of the Manhattan phone book on the red book we pilfered.) The red book told you the addresses, accounts and key personnel at virtually every agency. Back in those days none of us wanted to work in an agency that didn't have a creative person at the top of their red book listing. In those days, that was possible. In fact, the best agencies usually had a copywriter or an art director as the President or CEO.

Nowadays, of course, such ascendancy is virtually unheard of. And even if a creative person is near the top, that creative usually has to report to a short foreigner who runs the holding company.

I dunno about you, but if I were looking to hire a military force, I'd want it run by soldiers. If I were looking for a manager of a baseball club, I'd want to find a baseball guy. If I were looking for an insurance policy I wouldn't want it written by a violinist.

However, when it comes to picking agencies we choose among holding companies that for the most part are run by financiers and arbitragers. Not advertising people. That makes as much sense to me as trying to make cotton candy out of cement.

4 comments:

Teenie said...

Why do clients keep picking big, bureaucratic agencies to do their creative? And why would creatives still give their eye teeth to work at these places?

Part of the reason I loathe award shows is all those goateed creatives looking down on the small shops as they hoist yet another award for big business. And all I can think is "our client roster may not be impressive, but I'm a lot more free that your stupid t-shirt makes you out to be."

Don said...

For too long, we've been making ads with the shelve life of cotton candy.

LeahLuv said...

Seems to me that Publicis was just looking to own a legit digital agency. :)

Mark Silber said...

I get it -- you're old, right?