I actually began my career on Madison Avenue,
at Scali, McCabe, Sloves.
When I started, clients and agencies took pride in their relationships. Art Direction and copywriting were crafts learned by apprenticeship. Account Service emphasised the word service, and chances were great that the client began her or his career on the agency side, and you had many agency people that began on the client or media side. We learned, grew, and were mentored by each other. We also shared common goals.
Advertising, no matter what the size of your budget, no matter whether appearing in digital, TV, radio, print, broadcast, promotion, DRTV or event marketing, and public relations, no matter whether business-to-business, business-to-consumer or direct-to-consumer should always have four crystal clear goals:
1. It should set you and your products apart from your competitors and be memorable.
2. It needs to present your company’s and products attribute clearly, concisely, and never underestimate to the audience’s intelligence.
3. It must reach as many of the right consumers or customers for your product and services at the best possible costs.
4. It should always be honest.
To get the best possible agency partners takes a lot of hard work, starting with defining what you need, how much you may need, what competition you have, what schedules you routinely work against, and where you market lies – local, regional, national, global. Then, find a range of partners that can both satisfy those needs and develop meaningful working relationships with your marketing team and company leaders. And above all, not just be creative for creative sake but creative to build a lasting, positive impression for what you are selling. When we started out, that was pretty much the rule rather than the exception.
Today’s world of advertising is different. It’s a world of roll-ups, mergers, outsourcing, and lack of apprenticeships with holding company needs that may be at odds with client needs. What’s more, with so much specialization that has become the norm, the transferable skills, and understanding needed to blend creative execution, media selection, and production with cost efficiency needs across print, broadcast, Internet, or promotion have become in short supply. And in many cases this has led the selection of an agency to be handled by procurement and the RFP rather than what is needed to grow the company in a competitive landscape.
For the most part, even those involved as outside facilitators in the agency selection process come from a world where their experience is only one-sided. I was lucky. I started at a time when advertising was the career of choice and drew the best of the best from our colleges and universities not finance.
I worked closely with both legends in the agency world at legendary agencies and worked for and with companies that were known for their legendary marketing with legendary leaders and marketing departments. In essence, I grew up in a world exposed to brilliant creative thinking and mentoring from both sides. And over the years it served me well.
I've worked both in agencies and for clients. I know what the expectations and needs are on both sides to make marketing and marcomm centers of excellence. And bring that understanding to not just the right pairings of agencies and clients, but as important, the successful interaction between the partners, which will lead to strong roots, solidifying long-term relationships, which ultimately delivers better communication with consumers and customers. And both sides contribute to developing advertising that is both creative and influential on the buying decision.