Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Creative Is Still King And It Is An Exciting Time For Advertising

Advertising is advertising. Digital, broadcast, out-of-home, it doesn’t matter. It makes no difference how the business has changed or moved or morphed, it is still one hundred percent about selling products or ideas.

It is a very exciting time in the business.

The reason is that communications are finally becoming totally integrated.  Great ideas can be executed in multiple media, including digital.

Throughout all that is going on in the business, clients are still looking for good work that moves product or thought.  Anyone who is in the business and does not understand or know this, should not be working in advertising.  Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, gave an important and insightful speech at the ANA recently.  In it, he talked about the new direction at Procter and Gamble.  To paraphrase him, he admitted that they (P&G) were spending too much time measuring and not enough time on the quality of the work.  Of course.  P&G has finally seen what all good advertising people have always known.  Creative is still king.  It is always about the work, not test scores.

Every person involved with the business – account, creative, strategy, media, events, CRM, content, social or promotion, etc. must understand that the work is why their company was hired.  No client has ever hired an advertising agency of any kind thinking they would be satisfied with ineffective work. I once had a not so successful and short-tenured agency president tell me that marketing was far more important than the work.  Wrong.  The work may come from great marketing (or vice versa), but one doesn’t exist without the other.  Great marketing backed by poor execution is doomed.  Great execution backed by poor marketing may succeed in spite of itself.  But when both are great it can be nirvana. The best part of the business is that now great work can be executed in multiple media.

Many agencies, in an effort to seem more contemporary, are calling themselves communication agencies or content shops or something besides advertising.  Doing that only obfuscates the truth.  The proof is that the successful digital agencies like R/GA and 360i are expanding their offerings into the territory that was once the province of the traditional agencies.  And the general agencies are morphing into integrated whole agencies.  There is even a rumor that Ogilvy1 and several other O&M agencies will be integrated into Ogilvy, which only makes sense.  

Perhaps this will signal to all agencies that it is time to end the silos, which only interfere with good work and with servicing clients.

It is and always will be about the work.


  1. I once gave a lecture about “integrated” brand advertising and marketing communications and in it, I compared a truly integrated brand campaign to the art world. That is, if you saw a Picasso – any Picasso - you instantly knew it was a Picasso. Same for Van Gogh, Rembrandt, da Vinci, et al. Whether intentional or not, they were and are Brands, where consistency in creative quality and continuity in creative execution established value and future marketplace expectations.

    Of course brand advertising creative is quite different, because there’s always more than one artist (indeed, a team) standing at the canvas - assuming (and to Paul’s point about silos) that they’re even in the same room at the same time. But like the fine arts, there still needs to be a “curator” of the work and end-product.

    Hope this little anecdote contributes something to the dialogue.

    1. That is a great analogy. And absolutely true. I may use it myself at some point.

    2. Glad you like my commentary Paul. Best, Bill


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