Monday, June 23, 2014

The Cannesgover

If you happen to be employed in advertising you know today is the Worst. Day. Ever.


Because today the adverati return from Cannes. Most will come home empty-handed, but full of glory-hungry piss and vinegar. They watched as the Brazilians and Europeans carted off a suitcase packed with lions and vowed to return next year with work that would knock your $200 Fedora off.

And so today, the creatives who didn't go to France to lounge on a yacht, sip rose and pontificate about the holistic integration of Instagram, Twitter, and wearable anklet computers, the ones who banged out the sales events, the statement stuffers and the e-mail blasts that keep the lights on, will get an earful.

You know what I'm talking about: The Pep Talks.

Years ago we would have been herded into the conference room. But now, since we all sit at the community table or the SuperDesk, the flagellation…er, motivational speeches can be administered out in the open.

"We have to be smarter." 

"We have to work harder."

"We have to generate ideas faster."

"We have to create work that can stand up to the myopic scrutiny of MBAs and have people in focus groups exclaiming, 'that spot has to be made.'"

Stop me if you've heard this before. Chances are you have. And you'll hear it again next year. Because the powers that be in advertising, the ones who graced you with a 2 inch high Eiffel Tower souvenir from their annual French boondoggle, are averse to change.

The only change they're interested in is an upgraded suite at the InterContinental Carlton in 2015.

But I'm an outsider now.
And have no vested interest in vesting. Or ladder climbing.
And, perhaps blindly, no fear of retribution.

So here's my humble but deadly-accurate prescription, for agencies that want to win awards at Cannes.

1.) Pink Slip The Planners -- You show me a creative team that can't figure out a distinctive market insight and I'll show you a team that doesn't deserve a Cannes Lion. Or a job for that matter.

2.) Put Creatives in Charge -- The final say on what goes out the door and sold to the client goes to a Creative Director.  Not a CEO, a CMO, or a CFO. Or worse, a committee of all the aforementioned.

3.) Never say the words Social and Media in the same sentence -- Banners, tweets, mobile apps, Facebook updates, page takeovers, kickstarters, Tumblrs and Foursquare friend finders have never sold a single widget, dohickey or whatchamacallit. They never will. Stop. Just stop.

4.) Make with the Funny -- With the exception of Barton Graf and the agency where I am currently employed, there are few folks doing work that's genuinely funny. Not wink worthy. Or smile inducing. People want work that makes them laugh. Where are the Evil Beavers?

4a.) Hire a crusty Old Time Writer -- In the 10 years I've been freelancing I haven't been to one agency that couldn't benefit from an old timey writing guy. Or gal. Who knows how to put one word in front of another and bring back the art of persuasion.

5.) Finally, Burn the Community Table -- Writers and art directors need offices. Real offices. Give them the ones formerly occupied by the Planners.


George Tannenbaum said...

I wholeheartedly agree.
Especially with 4a.

mbdeane said...

I always ask potential clients if they prefer to have their brain surgery performed by the 30 year old with a couple of surgeries under his/her belt or the 50 plus old fart who has been doing it forever...

glasgowdick said...

Or maybe just a cagey 44-year old.

gl said...

Rich, the only reason to for one's agency to enter Cannes is if they win, they can hire creatives for less $$$. This sort of justifies the exorbitant entry fees as a cost-effective investment.

However sending the executive staff off to Cannes to drink champaign from script girls' sneakers, doesn't provide a comparable ROI. (UNLESS they nab a client from a gold lion winning agency by promising them to never do work as irresponsible as that.) Hence the post-Cannes speech: "I feel guilty as shit spending y'all's X-mas bonuses in France, so now I'm gonna crack the whip to turn my hangover into a teachable moment for you wretches.

Julie C. said...

Yes. Hire the crusty, dagnabbit.

Adam said...

I get a lot from Planners. They do much of the thinking up front, save me time, and are usually decent — better than account people anyway — for teasing out a half-formed idea from a quarter-formed idea. Whether that's worth the money of their salaries, I'm not sure. (Whether I'm worth my salary as a creative, I'll leave to the judgement of the reader.)