August 06, 2015

Agency Business Committing Suicide

The advertising industry is well on its way to convincing the business community that advertising doesn't work.

Our obsessive desire to curry favor with the feckless trendy obsessions of the marketing industry -- interactivity, precision targeting, social media, big data, technology -- at the expense of the basics of brand building, is hurting marketers and killing advertising.

We have pounded marketers over the head with relentless bullshit about the miraculous power of digital communication. We have spent 10 years telling marketers that "advertising is dead." We have persuaded them that the "interruption model" is no longer viable.

The result is that they are now thoroughly convinced that the fairy tales we sold them are true. And because we are not delivering on the fairy tales, they are firing us right and left.

An article in Forbes last week, entitled "How The Big Shift To Digital And Data Marketing Is Getting Agencies Fired" gets the result right and the problem wrong.

Let's be clear -- it's not our capabilities that are the problem. The problem is the bullshit we promised. We told them we could make them fly and they believed us. Now that it's clear that we are incapable of making them fly, they're looking for someone who can perform the miracle we promised them.

According to the Forbes article:
  • 83% of clients say they are looking for skills and capabilities not found in most agencies 
  • 95% of CMOs do not have confidence in agency performance
  • 70% say they have no confidence in agency ability to manage or analyze data
These numbers are appalling and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

The article concludes that
"To regain their footing agencies should become highly flexible and constantly adapt"

Agencies have only one hope. We need to stop bullshitting and get back to the basic truth about advertising.

We need to quit blathering about the false gods of interactivity, precision targeting, social media, data, and technology... and convince marketers that the most effective way to build brands and businesses is through the unique and unmatched power of mass media and brilliant advertising.

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