Will you look at that Åsk Wäppling is now listed as an author on Amazon... The book is actually written by Josh Sklar, who spent a long time interviewing grumpy, sarcastic, jaded, brutally honest and occasionally brilliant ad people. As the blurb says; Apathetic. Numb. Overwhelmed. Those aren’t consumers. They’re ad professionals. I told you about this before when it was a digital project, that has now evolved into a paperback book. It'll be out on Kindle soon, completing the media-circle. The foreword is written by Jeff Goodby, who notes: "As soon as I am finished writing this foreword, it will be obsolete, as quaint as metal type and the IBM Selectric. That’s how fast this stuff is changing right now." This is the truth, but as the book will show you, there are things in advertising that never change, no matter how much the media or tools we use do. Goodby also notes that "We are not just at a commercial crossroads, but at a moral one." as we can choose to be intrusive, annoying and useless pop-ups or listen when the now twitter-empowered consumers talk back, and engage with those who love our brands in new ways. Advertising people today are inventing the future. And this is what the book is about. It's a little awkward for me to review it, as I'm peppered throughout it with brazen quotes and too many swearwords, but then so many smart advertising people that I admire are sharing their insights too so I'm honored to be among them. We are pointing out errors of the past, trying to break down the silos between the different disciplines so that proper cross pollination between them can nurture ideas. In the future, you see, we all have a choice. We can either ride the steam roller or stand there whimpering and die. The collected snarks from frazzled ad-men all lead up to the wire-framed future and the tactics we can implement to find our spot in the wheel of fortune. Josh Sklar has done an excellent job editing the war stories and putting it all together into an important read. You should pick this up, regardless if you are old or new in this game we call advertising, war stories are always fun.
Chapter 8: Reengineering the Agency Model
Åsk Wäppling, “I’ve always seen it as a problem that advertising agencies don’t actually charge for what they do, which is coming up with the idea. There are some campaign ideas that run for 40 years. This should be our intellectual property. This is what we should charge for, but we’re not, which turns us into media companies. This is the problem, and this is what’s going to kill the dinosaur. If you look around the Web today, it’s like nobody owns anything. Ideas are for everybody. IP [intellectual property] is a sucky thing, and copyright should go to hell. This is going to kill not just advertising agencies, but eventually everybody’s work in the future. Because it’s not like our children are going to be working in factories actually making shoes or jeans or work on farms or something, like we used to do.
“Our kids are going to be making digital apps and coming up with ideas and perhaps writing books or working on bits and bobs on screenplays and whatever else that they can produce that are non-tangible objects and based on copyright and patents. If we just release this, we have nothing. We don’t produce tangible things anymore. We should protect the ideas. Since ideas are not tangible, people think, ‘That’s just something we can copy digitally. It’s only ones and zeroes.’ This is a really, really wrong mindset.
“It’s not the fact that they’re not keeping the talent, it’s that they’re not keeping what the talent is producing. The talent is producing an idea. Now, we can’t own an idea. I get that, but somehow, somewhere, when you have a legal department that takes over half of the agency, fucking make sure that the client signs off on the fact that you own the fucking idea. Because that’s what going to happen, you come up with something that can last for 30 years. That’s what the agency should be paid for 30 years. You shouldn’t be able to fire the creative team after two weeks for that idea. That’s where the disrespect comes from. I don’t think anybody cares about the people who have ideas, and I think that’s the big problem.”
Aden Hepburn, “We are never given bonuses for hitting targets, and we would love for there to come a time in the future where everything does revolve around metrics and when you hit the targets and when you exceed them, you get a bonus; and when you don’t, you surrender some of that money that you said you were going to hit. As long as those KPIs and targets are mutually agreed upon and the right people in the right rooms are discussing them and setting them together as to what they believe is the right investment. Metrics are a brilliant thing.”
R&D and Owning the Ideas
Dirk Eschenbacher, “Creating a start-up company is definitely something I am doing here [at Ogilvy China]. Creating tools and trying to make the experience great while creating brands based in social media. In the advertising world, it is not that simple. It’s always based on a marketing calendar and a marketing budget and a checklist to achieve, so you’re not tasked with creating more than what is needed at the present moment. Getting a holistic brief for making a company more functional... I’ve never had that brief yet, to be honest, and the clients that I operate on, like Volkswagen and Motorola, they’re so complex internally that they have industrial design companies and in-store design firms lead all of the brand experience projects.
“‘Start-up’ means you have intellectual property (IP) and a business idea. Unless you offer to take a share of the business, it’s very difficult to commit to it, so I see an agency environment as much different from a start-up environment. It’s very different, and it’s very difficult to fit a start-up environment into an agency. An agency is just not a start-up. You can maybe start one up within an agency, but you have to really treat it very differently. You can’t just integrate it into a big agency. It won’t work. I can totally understand that every [agency] person believes an agency can make it work, but it’s a completely different experience, as I have learned.”
People interviewed in the book are, besides myself: Gareth Kay, Dirk Eschenbacher, George Tannenbaum, Jeffrey Dachis, Jerry Yoram Wind, Jon Cook, Andy Flemming, John Winsor, Alexandre Olmedo, Bob Hoffman, Andy Greenaway, Steffan Postaer, Brian Solis, David Sable, Ignacio Oreamuno and David Shulman while Jeff Goodby write the preface and, John Lambie the commentary.