April 29, 2011

Everyone's Business But Our Own

The ad industry is a mess. We don't even know who we are or what we do anymore.

This point was made embarrassingly clear in two articles this week. The first in AdAge was called "Adland's Identity Crisis Leaves Clients' Heads Spinning."

The point of the piece was that 
"...ad agencies are fighting harder than ever to stay ahead of the curve. But a funny thing has happened: They're now meeting in the middle."
The second, in Adweek, entitled "Marketers to Digital Shops: Diversify or Die" held that...
"...digital shops that don't diversify their offerings face the same creeping irrelevance as traditional agencies that give lip service to digital..."
The essence of the problem was nicely summed up by David Lubars of BBDO who put it this way:
"Everybody is trying to race up the hill from either side."
One of the things agencies always preach to clients is the critical importance of differentiating their product. And yet, in contradiction of that advice we all try to be everything to everyone.

Is there a type of business that is less competent at differentiating what it does from its competitors than an ad agency?

I have a tag line for us...

The Advertising Industry. We know how to run everyone's business but our own.

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