There was an article recently in "The New York Times" that talked about how some huge percentage of economic gains are concentrated on the 1% or even the 1% of the 1%. The fact is, what was once called the Middle Class is, in real dollars, earning less income now than they were 15 years ago.
What's happening, or rather what we're seeing, is the results of the shift of power from Labor--where it rested during the 30s-60s--to Capital. Unions, which despite all their corruption, did give Labor a certain degree of power, have been eviscerated. We live now in an economy where worker-productivity rises and wages fall.
I've been wondering if the much-gabbed-about decline in advertising creativity is also impacted by this trend.
It seems to me that the balance of power between Clients and Agencies has shifted much like the balance of power between Capital and Labor.
Simply put, Clients have all the power now. And it seems to have gotten exponentially more pronounced in the last five years. They regard the bulk of agencies--maybe all but Wieden and Kennedy--as commodities.
So, accordingly, they squeeze Agencies on wages, on timing, on "changes of direction." We are as disposable as yesterday's "Lunchable." This is almost diametrically opposite to life during the Bernbach "Creative Revolution" Era, when we had something unique to offer--a unique, insouciant way of talking about business that made it generally attractive to viewers.
Today Agencies have, like Labor, virtually no way of fighting back. Accordingly, I believe, Client agendas, dictates and decisions rule the airwaves. Today, we don't produce work, we survive it.
Things will swing back.
But, I'm afraid, not in my lifetime.
To those reader who blame all the crap of our industry on the fragmentation of the mass market, I don't buy it. I think it contributes, yes. But fragmentation is all the more reason for strong--seminal even--defining creative that works like a bludgeon in all channels.