There has been, in the parlance of teenagers affecting ghetto talk and hipsters affecting teenagers affecting ghetto talk, a lot of "smack" lately about goings-on at Ogilvy. They've had a few high-visibility departures and bloggers--with nothing much better to do, and those who comment on blogs, who really have nothing better to do, have latched onto these departures as evidence of Ogilvy's entropy or demise.
Last night, a friend who was my client on IBM while I was at Ogilvy, sent me links to two videos Ogilvy helped create around IBM's 100th Anniversary. This one was shot by Mr. Pytka. http://www.youtube.com/ibm#p/c/0/39jtNUGgmd4 And this by Errol Morris: http://www.youtube.com/ibm#p/c/1/XrhDaAmn5Uw
This work is compendious, big, important and moving. It captures the heart and soul of a company, evoking pride and promise. A company that's changed the way the world works. As an Ogilvy friend once said to me, "our work is meant to move the Presidents of countries, not the presidents of award shows."
Now what's happened in our industry is that the awards-industrial complex, unable to satiate their egos by doing work that's actually important, has created a set of criteria that rewards and awards the non-sensical, trivial and scurrilous to the exclusion of work that's really important.
As an industry, it seems to me we spend a lot of time gassing about what is the role for an advertising agency in modern times. Some have said agencies don't matter, that big ideas are obsolete.
Agencies, because they are outsiders and most often populated by outsiders, add value because they have a different point of view. They can be intimately involved with the inner workings of their clients but maintain a necessary distance.
Good agencies don't just tell jokes. They know and understand the workings of their clients and can articulate those workings to consumers in simple and compelling ways.