Various bottoms

I loved that front page headline in Campaign about Peter Souter bringing Walter Campbell and Sean Doyle to TBWA to team up with Dede Laurentino.

Those four guys are killers.

It certainly bucks the trend of having the top tiers of agencies made up exclusively of people from account-handling or even account-preparing backgrounds.

As I was quoted in that same issue as saying, I believe that most creatives are feeling increasingly marginalised in agencies these days.

A bit like teenagers.

There’s a feeling that they’re deliberately being awkward, and that they may be working to a different agenda.

There’s also a sense that they’re mumbling a lot and they may be taking drugs.

(More seriously, there’s also a lack of trust that any single team can crack a problem. Every brief is a gang-bang these days.)

So it’s great that Peter has put creativity back on the front page – instead of another bloody media review.

Because creativity is actually the product we make.

As Alex Bogusky said, you’ve got to figure out if you’re in the product sector or the service sector – and if you’re in the service sector, stick your head in an oven and kill yourself by slamming the door on it repeatedly.

(He didn’t say that last bit, by the way. I did.)

There’s precious little point in servicing an account where the blandness of the work means it will review in 18 months anyway.

But let’s face it, creativity is tough and times are rougher than an X Factor contender from Newcastle.

Most TV advertising is like having a lunatic in the house, who keeps making suggestions without any understanding of your personality or your financial status.

It’s like having a demented lodger sitting  on your sofa who keeps reminding you to buy stuff you don’t need.

It used to be that lots of bright people wanted to work in advertising – and they did this because they loved the creativity.

Do they still want to work in it ?

Of course there are still lots of bright people working in advertising – but you find a lot of spiders in bathtubs. Not because they want to be there but just because they can’t get out.

It’s not helped by the unrealistic attitudes of some marketeers. I was working with an American agency recently and I came across a line for Southern Comfort that read – “it’s a glorious celebration of all that life has to offer.”

To which the only sane reply is …

No it isn’t.

Someone who works in one of the sexier agencies in London (on the account handling side) wrote once about “the long daily grind and lack of recognition.”

I think we can all recognise that, although if you’re getting one long grind a day, that’s not too bad.

I could live without the recognition.

People pointing in the street and saying “There’s Steve Henry, he enjoys at least one long grind per day”.

Mind you,  it would be good publicity.

Morale is pretty low in the industry because of  an unhelpful focus on the bottom line, which is making people miserable.

Senior agency staff are incentivised purely around keeping clients happy at all costs, and that takes precedence over caring about the work.

Looking at this, it sometimes seems to me that the industry is at rock bottom but still digging.

And talking of bottoms –

In South America, an ex-Miss Argentina died after cosmetic surgery on her buttocks.

That story has nothing to do with the main thrust of this blog.

Except that that kind of story is what we’re competing against while we’re trying to convince people that Southern Comfort invented democracy in Ancient Greece.

Because it’s content vs content these days.

Is the answer social media ?


It seems to be the answer to every question around, from “How do you foment political unrest in an otherwise near-comatose proletariate ?” to “What were you doing yesterday afternoon and why didn’t you answer my urgent emails ?”

But a bigger question is whether social media and marketing will mix.

Personally, I like to draw a line between my friends and too much commercial activity.

It gets sticky enough just figuring out whose round it is.

And as a friend of mine Richard Stacy blogged recently …” [In social media], people want information or conversation, not performance.”

I.e. the one-to-many style of advertising won’t translate easily into these new tightly-targetted models.

So maybe we’re no nearer.

As Richard said elsewhere, advertising is the answer to a question nobody asked.

For a while – when nobody took it very seriously – it worked quite well.

Ironic, really.

But those days seem gone.

Maybe Peter, Walter, Sean and Dede can bring them back.

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