Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clark Clifford on Advertising.

Clark Clifford was, for many years, one of the most powerful and highly regarded lawyers in the nation. As such, he had a great sense of his own value--he did not believe that anyone hired Clark Clifford except to gain the full benefit of his skill and services.

Here's a story I just read about Clifford recounted in Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest".

A company president called Clifford and explained a complicated problem and asked Clifford's advice. Clifford told him not to say or do anything. Then Clifford sent him a bill for $10,000.

A few days later, the company president called Clifford back to complain about the bill and to ask why he should keep quiet. Clifford responded, "Because I told you to." Clifford then sent him a bill for an additional $5,000.

I suppose it's fantasyland to think that an agency can survive with such a sense of its own value. Or, to use the vernacular, that an agency grow balls.

Maybe the difference is that Clifford delivered a simple proposition to his clients. "I'll keep you out of trouble so you can grow richer." Whereas in the agency business we talk about our proprietary processes and methodologies. We go on endlessly about our case studies and our global reach. We spew out dicta about changing media landscapes and the empowered consumer. ie. we make things complicated.

Maybe an agency should just say this: "Listen to us and we'll make people try, buy and love your brand."

Alright, lay off, I said I was in fantasyland.

1 comment:

Teenie said...

Nice try, though, Geo.

I never get those proprietary processes and super-secret agency methods. One agency I worked at actually trademarked the dang strategic and creative briefs. The only difference between agencies is people--and the leader's vision. Other than that, we've just got our heads far, far up our own arses.