Thursday, August 27, 2015
The Two Faces of Advertising
If you're looking for hypocrisy in advertising you don't have to look very far.
Last week, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, arguably one of the most creative shops in the land, fired their CEO and Chief Creative Guru Andrew Keller, one of the most talented creative guys in the land.
This, after 17 years of service.
17 years that produced Subservient Chicken, Whopper Freakout and a Mini campaign that set the bar for automotive advertising.
I don't know Mr. Keller and obviously have no agenda sucking up to a guy who is no longer employed, but 17 years is a long time, enough time to raise a child and send her a thousand miles away to pay outrageous, out of state college tuition.
Call me crazy, but whatever happened to this thing we call loyalty?
Every day I hear or read about the demise of agency/client relationships. Or the importance of establishing an AOR. Or how long term strategic marketing problems cannot be solved by short term, flighty jump ball assignments. But you plunk a microphone in front of an ad agency CEO and you're going to get a bloviating earful about loyalty.
We talk passionately about it and then we cavalierly axe people who have steadily drank the Kool Aid and bled the agency's team colors. I personally know of other ad folk, with a dozen, twenty and close to thirty years of service, tossed to the curb like some inedible, stale bear claw.
It doesn't end there.
Agencies are fond of getting on a soapbox and informing the world that "we are storytellers and artists." They talk a big game about how creative departments need to include poets, architects, musicians, photographers and not just people focused on advertising. And then they chain those people to their desks, or a long picnic table, and carve 80 hours a week out of their lives to do nothing but advertising.
Agencies can never stop talking about the democratization of technology. And the power of social media. But when was the last time you read an agency blog or engaged with an agency website or sat through an entire agency self promo? I'd prefer to be drawn and quartered, at least my back would get a good stretch.
Agencies like to position themselves as leading pop culture. Of being on the cutting edge. And a model of progressive thinking. And yet if you were to break down the demographics of the leadership, you'd have a hard time finding any women. Or African Americans. Or 44 year old copywriters. Or anybody frankly, that wasn't young, white, and bearded, with a closet full of fashionable European scarves and a medicine cabinet brimming with hair product.
Don't get me wrong, I love working at an ad agency. Or at least what an ad agency used to be.
But today I enjoy it from the perspective as an outsider looking in and not the other way around.
Should he follow the same freelance path, and once he accepts the fact that there are no free bagels in life, I suspect that in a very short while, Mr. Keller will feel the same way, too.