Through my many years in the marketing business, I’ve come to recognize a disturbing trend.
As the economy has changed so has the makeup of the advertising agency and firms responsible for overseeing a company’s marketing . Staffing of these firms, through the years, has moved in a very different direction. Unfortunately, not for the better.
The obvious change within the industry has been the move from traditional forms of advertising/marketing to electronic media, with social media being the piece de resistance.
Somehow this transition has caused the focus of most marketing firms to move away from high quality creative personnel to high priced account execs.
Don’t worry about a fresh idea, just keep that cereal account at all costs. Even though that cereal client may not have a clue as to what makes for great creative, do whatever he says.
The result from sucking up is, well, marketing that sucks.
I’ve been in meetings where the two groups almost came to blows.
The creative team came up with an imaginative approach to an ad campaign, but the account team was sure the client wouldn’t like it.
They wouldn’t think of fighting for something different if their jobs depended on it.
Oh wait…, it does. If the campaign flops, they can rely on, “Hey, the client approved it”.
If asked to put my finger on the erosion of respect given to marketing firms, it would have to be the decision of these companies to lessen the importance of the creative team and an increase of power given to the account team.
This approach may help to gain clients, but fail at keeping them.
Currently, many people consider this the creative age. It may be if judging technology and the means and speed in which we communicate.
However, ask yourself, how creative is the content of that communication?
Do we, as marketing clients, allow our marketing people to think outside the box?
In his book, Creative Company, Andy Law writes, “stop using the old industrial model where the boss is always right.” Or in our discussion, the client is always right.
Unleashing the power of your employees imagination will force you to accept that brilliance can come from any quarter. Creative thinking is a positive, generative force that uses imagination to power business.
If your account staff is worth their salt and they are armed with killer creative, they should be able to convince the client of its merits.
Look at Don Draper in the TV series Mad Men. Although, to many, the show is seen as outdated and old school, it does take place in the heyday of advertising. But the tenets still apply today.
As a principal of the agency, Don also handled account duties and creative direction. He always took a fresh approach to campaign creative and never kowtowed to client whims.
Every marketing firm needs a Don Draper. But then, what would they do with him?
David Ogilvy writes in an “Open letter to a client in search of an agency”, “Don’t keep a dog and bark yourself. Any fool, can write a bad ad, but it takes a genius to keep your hands off a good one”.
Power to creative people!