Thursday, June 2, 2011

The anti-work agency.

Of the many issues facing advertising agencies today, perhaps the most egregious is that they are, at their core, anti-work. That is, you run against the grain of the agency's cost control core if you have an idea that isn't scoped (by someone who's never created an ad) and decide to work on it "on spec."

No, agencies today have incorporated systems as rigid as a brick and woe be the person who decides to violate those systems. You get a brief that tells you to dig a hole that is two-feet deep and three feet in circumference. Someone, removed from work, has decided that a hole of that dimension is needed. They, of course, aren't elbow deep in the mess of solving a client's issues. They aren't responsive to what's going on in the market. They don't hear the insights of focus groups. They just tell you how to answer all things. They do that with something called a scope.

For the last 15 years or so, since I have been leading groups and accounts, I have had a catchphrase that flies in the face of such regimentation. I always ask "Are we doing the assignment or are we doing the job?"

In other words, are you doing what some petty functionary or someone removed from the business has "scoped" you to do, or are you going beyond and answering a real need?

Sometimes that hole that's been assigned would be more effective if it were a canal, and sometimes you don't know that until you really--'scuse me--dig in and start trying to solve a problem.

In short, question everything. Especially what you've been told to do.

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