Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pass the Mushu Pork, Please

If I were to ever own my own ad agency, and I've threatened such a scenario for years, the scope of services would be very limited.

1. We'd make the ads.
2. We'd manage the creation, production and distribution of the ads.
3. And then we'd bill the client.

We'd operate this way, not because those are the only areas where I have some expertise, but because anything else is superfluous.

Of course, that is NOT the general direction in which most agencies are going. And I should know, I have worked in all of them.

These days the scope of services goes way beyond the making of ads. Agencies today are more than willing to tell clients, and sell clients, profound insights as to what goes into making a culture.

A few weeks ago, I was working out of the cafeteria of a company that shall remain anonymous -- "The names have been changed to protect the inefficient."

There, I had the distinct pleasure of eavesdropping in on a "business" conversation by the Planners. I believe they are now called Cultural Experiential Anthropologists.

It was all so enlightening.

Had you squinted your eyes and employed a little cognitive dissonance you would have sworn you were in the living room of the local Tri-Delt House.

"So, let's talk about emoticons."

"OMG, I hate emoticons. And the people that use them."

"Hello, 2007 called and it wants its winky face back."

"Know what's worse than emoticons? Acroynms. LOL, ROFLOL, LMFAOLOL."

"Yeah. I can't stand acronyms."

"OMG, me too!" (from one girl who was impossibly more clueless than the others)

"How many of you have instagrammed a meal before?"

"Speaking of meals, look somebody just put leftover birthday cake on the counter."

By the way, I may be a hardcore atheist but I would put my hand on a Bible/Torah/Quran, or even Darwin's The Origin of a Species, and swear that the dialogue quoted above is a true word-for-word accounting.

At the conclusion of this Insight Farming Session (OK, that I made up, but I'm sure they had some jargon-y term for what had just transpired) somebody volunteered to compile all the "findings".

I'm sure a deck was made.
An invoice was generated.
And a check was blindly written by the client to pay for this groundbreaking research.

I can't help wondering how many dohickees/whatchamacallits/thiggamajigs the client has to sell just to cover this cost of this horse hockey.

I may not possess an MBA. Or a sophisticated knowledge of human behavior and the influence of a fractured media landscape. And I lack the ability to discern the intricate differences between a 'Pragmatic Charismatic' and a 'Practical Self-Actualizer.' But this, the above tale, is what passes for marketing and business acumen in the halls of corporate America in the year 2013.

And it explains why in 50 years we're all going to be speaking Mandarin.


george tannenbaum said...

The thing that's particularly depressing to me is this: It takes more time and costs more of agencies to come up with digital tripe than it costs to come up with a national television campaign.

I routinely see half a dozen people working half a dozen months on a web "experience" that will reach half a dozen viewers.

Then all of us get labelled as expensive or not worth it or not profitable and we suffer the consequences.

There's no money in new media unless you invent a new medium.

Jerry Grant said...

My experience exactly. These type of conversations and thinking made so ill, I found something else to do. I may not make the money I once did but I'm a lot healthier.

Mark Cohen said...

Stop complaining and get back to concepting the client's new Second Life consumer engagement post.

Anonymous said...

This is spot on! I thought I was alone in this new crazy place of OMG/LOL/Whatever...thanks for sharing, is there still hope for those of us who are real?