Monday, October 24, 2011

What's wrong with advertising

If you think about the advertising industry, as I do, there's an article in today's "New York Times" that merits reading and reflection.
Over the last 30 years or so, and the trend has accelerated during today's era of digital mania, about half the industry's talk has been centered around "what's wrong with the advertising industry."

People have proffered all sorts of theses, but only rarely, if at all does someone come forth and say that the business has been "Wall-Streeted."

Advertising, when it finally came to the attention of bankers in the early 80s was considered an attractive field in which to invest. Agencies generated a lot of cash flow and, outside of offices and typewriters, needed no real equipment or infrastructure. It probably costs less in capital plant to get an agency up and running that it takes to start a nail salon.

The money boys saw this and pounced. Just as they did in the newspaper industry.

The Times reports on enormous bonuses being lavished on people high up in the Gannet and Tribune companies.

Here's the scorecard of one such bandit.

Recently, Craig A. Dubow resigned as Gannett’s chief executive. "His short six-year tenure was, by most accounts, a disaster. Gannett’s stock price declined to about $10 a share from a high of $75 the day after he took over; the number of employees at Gannett plummeted to 32,000 from about 52,000, resulting in a remarkable diminution in journalistic boots on the ground at the 82 newspapers the company owns."

Gannet's board gave Mr. Dubow just under $37.1 million in retirement, health and disability benefits, on top of a combined $16 million in salary and bonuses in the last two years.

What's happened in journalism has happened in advertising and in other industries. I actually don't think there's anything wrong with advertising that the money moguls didn't cause.

We've been strip-mined.

The wealth has been removed.

The land has been laid waste.

The robbers move on.


Unknown said...

and the take over and robbery have been made easier by the naivety of those of us who do the work. Journalists and copywriters and art directors are often very devoted to the job. Almost like a calling. Whereas we like to believe that doctors and priests should be the the professions based on a real calling, those are two groups that have faired way better economically than the most "creatives". They have made sure they get paid. While we are cheating ourselves by judging the capability and worth only on hollow awards schemes which only a few can win no matter what. And thus we're taken to the cleaners by the business people around us. The rely on our love for the work.

george tannenbaum said...



Unknown said...

Thanks for reminding me of the post. Yes, I remember reading it when you first published it.
(And as usual, sorry for all spelling mistakes. )

Adasaurus said...

while working for an FCB affilliate years ago. We lost one of our biggest clients. Losing 25 million in billing put a crunch in our contributions to the corp plan. Instead of say $800,000. we did $600,00 and were told "make the difference in salaries".This after laying off 20 or so people to"streamline operations".
Now we would have to cut into bone, because the fat was gone. The focus shouldn't be stock performance it should be product. Stockholders are gamblers plain and simple.Some times you win sometimes you loose.