Thursday, June 3, 2010

Another one bites the dust.

This blog, as I have stated many times, started as an analogy. Would the ad industry--Madison Avenue, replicate the bureaucratic ossification of the auto industry--Detroit, and collapse under its own, aggressively stupid weight?

Yesterday The New York Times announced that Ford is discontinuing its Mercury brand. Mercury has been selling cars in the US since 1939. 1978 was its peak sales year when they sold 580,000 cars. Last year they sold about 1/6 that total 93,000 vehicles.

My first car was a Mercury, a 1964 Park Lane convertible that was as long as a football field and gushed oil like a BP well. The bumpers were heavy and chrome and once when the brakes gave out I slowed the car down and crashed head-on into a telephone pole and no one was hurt. In the summer when the roof was down, you could pile half your high school class in the car and head to the beach.

In the past two years or so Mercury, Pontiac, Saab, Plymouth, Saturn and Hummer have ended. There hasn't been a similar shuttering of ad agencies (outside of Enfatico and Lowe) though I suspect that certain entities have seen their staffs and revenues decline precipitously.

I'm not well-connected like George Parker. But my guess is there are now nearly as many empty offices in Ad Land as there are empty suits.

1 comment:

bob hoffman said...


Don't sell yourself short. You were absolutely right.

Far more agencies have bitten the dust than auto brands. Not long ago (maybe 25 years) Y&R had the largest share of market of US ad agencies at 1.5%. Now 4 global monstrosities have about 72% share of US ad market.

What happened to all those other agencies? Either they were swallowed whole, or they drove away in Mercuries.