Tuesday, 12 January 2010

What's wrong with ad agencies

I spent the day at my agency (well, from about 11 until 12.30-ish) and the post-Chrimbo immersion into the bare-knuckle rigours of marketing felt like I imagine it feels for miners to return to work after a spell in hospital with advanced emphysema.

I didn't like it, I struggled to breathe and I spent a lot of the time wondering what the hairy fucking heck I was doing there.

(I mean, a planner asked me whether my brand is a fan of X-Factor, or more a fan of Strictly Come Dancing, for fuck's sake. I pretended I had something in my eye and it all blew over, thank wank.)

That said, the cold bath treatment of getting back into the swing of things gave me the clarity to see just what the problem is with agencies.

Here's how I get a campaign out that's aimed at, say, fisting enthusiasts:

I call the account exec and say I need an ad aimed at fisting enthusiasts. She tells the account director, who enlists the help of a planner, a creative director and a digital specialist. The account director draws on a wealth of experience in this sector to steer the team, highlighting potential pitfalls and opportunities. The account exec supports and facilitates along the way. The planner (I am told) looks into the market and target audience in depth, discovering a unique insight into what fisting enthusiasts want from their consumer durables and produces a brief the creatives can turn into some great work. The creative director inspires the agency's creatives to find new and eye-catching ways to stop this target audience, get my message across and sell my product. The digital specialist dovetails with the creatives to help me bring the campaign to life online, perhaps using social media or devising groundbreaking ways of breaking out of traditional media and into a new and more engaging way of creating a connection with my consumer.

(Meanwhile, the media agency will drop the bombshell that to reach fisting enthusiasts I need to put a page ad in Fisting World and a banner ad on fisting.com. Fuck me. Really?)

It takes weeks of endeavour. Then the agency presents the ad with a mixture of pride and trepidation, confidence and fear, satisfied that they've developed something new, bold, impactful and effective - something they feel is almost part of them - but anxiously eager for me to like it.

At that point, I present the ad to my mother (she's nearly target audience) for research, she notices that the woman in it has mean eyes, or the colour of the type reminds her of the dress she wore the day my father left, and it's back to the drawing board. The whole process can sometimes be repeated 3 times before an ad gets to the public.

Now, I think I've spotted the flaw in all this.

The agencies put a massive amount of work into getting the ad in front of me, and I blow it out of the water on the strength of whatever my mother says, no matter how irrelevant or bizarre.

I don't know why I didn't see it sooner! It's so obvious!

Don't bother with all that work! Just give me some rough shit you thought up in half an hour and let me blow that out of the water on the strength of whatever my mother says. It'll save a lot of time, heartache and self-harm in the creative department.

Fucking easy! Some days I amaze myself - nearly! Ha ha! Nothing I do amazes me these days!

Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!


  1. Presentation of initial scamps is not a new concept. It just depends whether the client has the vision to see final solution.

  2. Mr Knockles, you've hit the nail on the head.

    The problem lies with the agency itself. But if they don't have any fucking tom-dick and harry 'working' on a brief, how they hell can they justify that exorbitant invoice at the end of all this?

    You can count the people actually doing the work on 1 finger. The rest, well they're like groupies hanging out with the band, but they've become so full of their own importance, they think they're in the fucking band now!

    If you sacked all the 'account managers' and got rid of all the 'planners' and employed the people who did the work directly, do you honestly think the work quality would drop?

    Maybe the social element may drop, and you may not get the paid for drinks card at delilaz, but maybe the cost saving would result in a big fat bonus you could splurge at your timeshare in Benidorm?

    102 posts I notice....

  3. Comments! Thanks, chaps.

    El_Propheto, I can see your point. But the social side, as you suggest, must be considered. I mean, the chemistry meetings / relationship-building piss-ups would be very solitary, bristola-less affairs without the account execs for starters.

    As for Benidorm, I own no such property. I'm was saving for a place in Florida but then the terrorists ruined America, so I invested in a personal booth at Delilaz. To be honest, it's where I'll spend my retirement so it made sense.