Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Connections and Sharpies.

I've always thought that one of the hallmarks of an above-mediocre mind was the ability to bring disparate facts together and form an opinion or draw a conclusion. Or just point to those facts and allow your readers or listeners to draw a conclusion. This faculty seems sadly missing in our world today. It seems to be egregiously missing in the advertising trade press.

Here's what I mean.

Last week or the week before, as the billion-dollar SC Johnson account fired them after decades of "service," DraftFCB in Chicago lost the lion's share of their business and, basically, their reason for being. Yesterday's Adweek "Ad of the Day" featured work from DraftFCB for Sharpie pens. http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-sharpie-134137

These aren't ads that Adweek's featured. They are four two-minute plus videos on "artists" that use Sharpies.

It's not that Draft's work for Sharpies sucks.

That's not the point.

The point is that Draft has burned countless hours in the pursuit of the trivial. While their biggest account was traveling thither.

Yesterday when I was at the editor's, I ran into my old (brilliant) boss who now runs a major global account for a major global agency. We hadn't talked in about seven years and last night we talked for a long time. We talked about being over-50 in a business that's infatuated by youth and wrapping paper. A business that extols Sharpie videos over real work.

"I'm not worried about staying employed," he said to me without a trace of arrogance. "Because I'm a grown up. Because I can sit with CEOs and CMOs and talk to them about their business problems. I can apply my tools, empathy and motivation to solve those problems. That's what new breed agencies can't do."

Advertising is a serious business.

We ask clients to spend millions of dollars. Dollars that come from their bottom line.

We are custodians of those millions.

We have to make those millions work.

It's not a joke.

It's not about a conversation.

It's not about rearranging pixels on the Titanic.

It's about empathy and motivation.

It's about being a grownup. And having grownup discussions with clients.

It's not about 10+ minutes of "content" for Sharpies.

1 comment:

rebrivved said...

I agree that there’s more to being a brand steward than making YouTube videos. Having said that, the best way to help your client manage their business has always been to stay in touch with how people want to interact with the brand. More than ever these days, online content is king. Videos are “real work”. Not because I say so. But because YouTube is second in search only to Google. My advice to new breed agencies—and this goes for traditional and digital agencies—is become a Swiss Army knife. Identify your clients’ challenges and prioritize them appropriately. Apply your tools, empathy and motivation to solve ALL of your clients’ on and offline problems, or risk losing pieces of their business, or the whole account altogether.