The Ad Industry’s Biggest Enemy.

UPDATE: Recently heard from a friend who just so happens to be a big-wig creative dude at well-known agency. He told me that AFTER READING THE AMAZING BLOG POST BELOW he read deep into the terms and conditions of an RFP he had received and found that their client wanted to own the intellectual property from the pitch and reserve the right to not award the actual business. It was buried in the document. He turned down the pitch. NICE.

Take a look in the mirror. It’s US. WE are OUR own WORST enemy.

Why? Because we give it away for free. We are the people to whom businesses come to for expert advice on how to reach an audience, what to say to that audience and how to say it. That’s what we do. That’s how we make our living.

AND YET, how many times have we sent the message that our ideas are worthless? We do it every time…

1) we agree to insane turnaround times:

ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT: You changed the brief at the last-minute, still want to meet your air date, so we have 24 hours to come up with a fully cooked integrated campaign? Is that right?



This is telling the client–what we do has no value. You turn a crank and POP! Out comes an idea! It’s quick! It’s easy! It’s advertising!

2) Every time we agree to a “creative check in” before the “actual meeting”

Guys, when we agree to this the “creative check-in” BECOMES the “actual meeting”. It’s just another way clients have to screw us out of the time that is necessary to fully bake an idea. It’s bad business and we become mere “vendors” in our clients eyes, when we should be partners.

3) Agreeing to stupid shit like:

Project work. (Fuck you. You give us the account or hit the fucking bricks, you are wasting our time)

Sudden Fee Re-negotiations. (This happens when the client wakes up one day and notices the economy is down and decides to see just how much he can fuck you. 99% of Agency Upper Management Douche-bags will play ball and agree to whatever terms just to keep the business. Those with testicles, however will resign the account.)

And putting up with this bullshit .

Apparently, clients are telling prospective agencies that if they want to pitch their shitty business, then they have to agree to let the client OWN the creative that’s presented to them for a pittance, AND have the agency agree not to pitch any competitors for TWO years!  Are you kidding me? So you can steal my idea, not pay me for it and keep me from making money in the future?  What?

If you are in a pitch, you should be giving clients MILLION DOLLAR IDEAS.  If they like the idea, they can have it— by giving you the business.  If not, you should be able to take your MILLION DOLLAR idea down the road to their competitor and they can have a huge case of Regretitus.  That fear is one of the FEW tools that works in our favor when dealing with new business clients.  Why piss that away?

The sad thing is that all it takes is ONE scared asshole to give in to this nonsense and it makes this business that much worse for everyone.

I know it makes me sound like a dinosaur; but the first agency to walk away from the old 15% of ad spend commission structure and agreed to a more ala carte system really screwed the pooch.

Now, we have clients who say they won’t pay for ANYTHING unless it sells.  Which seems fair on the face of it, but anyone in the business knows that a lot of sales are driven by internal client policies that agencies have NO control over; like naming a product, designing the packaging, what stores its found in, what aisle in the store, the price of the product, and finally…whether or not the product is a complete and total piece of shit.  All factors beyond the scope of most agencies.  Still sound fair? No.  But I guarantee you that there is an agency out there willing to accept this nonsense.  And that agency is screwing it up for the rest of us.

We need to get on the same page and have some respect for the business we have chosen to be in.  Let’s keep this stuff from happening, ok?  Ok.

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7 Responses to The Ad Industry’s Biggest Enemy.

  1. adchick says:

    I could NOT agree with you more. Even tho we’re in the middle of Nowhere, I have respectively resigned from business because of clients who don’t understand the role of our agency inside their business. In most cases, it has worked in our favor. We earned their respect and everything got more positive and successful. Those that left, we’re happier they’re gone. We are not order takers. And I tell them, “if you know how to do this, then why did you ask us?”

  2. Jim Mitchem says:

    I love this fucking business. I fucking love this business. I love fucking this business.

  3. jean says:

    all this stuff is a direct result of the fact that people whose earnings are tied to the agency’s profitability are the ones who make most of the critical decisions.

  4. Stephen says:

    Well said!

    When I started in this business, the creative “we” used to work together with account management to sell good work. I wish it were easily blamed on the failing economy, but this trend started years ago, with account teams acquiescing to untenable client demands with a cheery, “sure!”

    It’s the rare agency now, (and even rarer client) with the creative muscle to sell the work that the agency created, and not a diluted agency/client abomination.

  5. Stuart says:

    Win. This post has it.

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Ad Industry’s Biggest Enemy. | roonapalooza --

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