For nearly 30 years I've earned a living in advertising. Every once in a while, someone asks me, "how has the business changed." Someone did recently and I've been thinking long and hard about it.
Here's my conclusion in one sentence: "There is no longer any incentive to produce anything."
In fact, expanding that, for many people in the business--on both the agency and the client side, what's important isn't the conclusion--it isn't a campaign, a spot or a program. What's important is that you have work to do tomorrow.
Making meetings is important. Making work isn't. Because producing work actually cuts down on meetings. And making meetings is what's important.
It's not unusual for people to say to me, "I've been here x-months and haven't produced a thing." Today, that seems par for the course.
When agencies were paid commission on media spend, they had to produce or they wouldn't get paid. Agencies also marked up production 17.65%--more incentive to produce. Also, the more work runs, the more they make--an incentive to be constantly selling.
Today this system is gone. You get paid a fee. You put hours against that fee. If an agency comes up with an idea the client buys too quickly, they won't have burned enough hours. The agency will have to refund money to the client. It's like painting a house. If you get paid hourly, you stretch things out. You don't want to finish too fast.
Of course, Clients also have a disincentive to approve work. Approved work makes you accountable. No one in marketing in America gets fired for "looking at myriad creative options." For "research and testing." For "socializing things within the client organization."
In corporate America people get fired only if they actually do something. In agency America, agencies make more money if they produce more decks.
I'm sorry. But that's the way it is.