I actually began my career on Madison Avenue.
First at Scali, McCabe, Sloves, then Della Femina, Travisano & Partners,
and Rosenfeld, Sirowitz & Lawson
When I started, clients and agencies took pride in their relationships. Art Direction and Copywriting were crafts, learned virtually by apprenticeship. Account Service emphasized the word, "service", and chances were great that the client began her or his career on the agency side. And, many agency people began on the client or media side. We learned, grew, and were mentored by each other. We 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' attributes clearly, concisely, and never underestimate an 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 I 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 are 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 and motivate the customer.
And 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 or really narrow.
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 got to work closely with both legends in the agency world at legendary agencies and with companies that were known for their legendary marketing with legendary leaders and marketing departments. In essence, I grew up in a world where I was exposed to brilliant creative thinking and great mentoring. And over the years it served me, and my clients well.
I've worked both in ad agencies and for clients. I've learned what the expectations and needs are on both sides to make marketing and marcomm centers of excellence. And I 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. Most important is the ability to help an agency and its client in developing advertising, promotion, and shopper marketing that is both creative and influential on the buying decision.