George Parker: What’s It All About… Alfie?

George Parker is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com. Every week he shares his opinions on the advertising world with PSFK.

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I did a couple of posts over on AdScam earlier this week talking about how many of the current captains of industry, i.e. Big Dumb Client CEO’s, have taken to showing up for meetings, press conferences and TV interviews on the brain-dead business channels, sporting open neck shirts, as some kind of indication that they are now all hip and groovy. Up to speed on Web 2.0, Twitter, Facebook and all that good stuff they’ve been reading about in the Harvard Business Review.

The problem is, most businesses are the same as they’ve always been… No I’m not talking about the mechanics of 21st century IT systems, improved distribution and communication, datametrics, data mining, data fucking around in general and all that other shit we constantly hear about… I’m talking about the basic thinking that goes on in the minds of these people we have to deal with, who in many ways are responsible for the mess we are currently in.

Most businesses today are controlled by well educated; extremely cautious people who talk the same language and have the same ideas. Primarily, because they all went to the same schools and took the same MBA courses. They socialize together and share the same interests, they vote the same way, they belong to the same country clubs, and their kids go to the same schools.

The members of this privileged clan, who may have had demonstrated some originality and creativity at an early age, are quickly weeded out and go off to start a band, do drugs, or worse of all… Go into advertising.

Then we all meet again, years later, when we are working on the accounts of the “rational” thinkers now in charge of the big brands. Which worked OK back in the Mad Men days, because apart from a few renegade outfits like Doyle Dane and PKL, run by Italians, Jews and Greeks, the agency suits were a perfect match for the clients suits, and yes they did the social, club, school thing together.

Today, of course, it’s all different… Or is it? It’s a given that the media landscape has changed radically, unless you listened to an interview on Fox Business News channel last week, when a well known BDA, CEO (who I will refrain from naming, ‘cos I am a Prince) went on record as saying “The single most important and effective media is Television… And it always will be!” At the same time, BDA’s are desperately trying to convince us they are blowing up silos and knocking down walls, to the point were I wonder if there are any buildings left on Madison Avenue… Apart, that is, from the One WPP signed a ten year lease on not long ago to house now defunct, “Agency of the Future,” Enfatico!

Perhaps the new breeds of agencies that are springing up are the answer. I believe that many of them are, particularly those prepared to be judged on performance and the right to retain control over their intellectual property. Others based on the current craze du jour, such as crowdsourcing, flash mobbing, nose picking, or whatever, seem to be too ephemeral and unable to offer clients a worthwhile and long term relationship. Although based on the current scene, a long term client agency relationship would probably be measured in months.

What’s the answer? Fucked if I know. If you do, let me know.

George Parker is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com, which is without doubt, one of the most foul and annoying, piss & vinegar ad blogs on the planet. He is the author of MadScam and his new book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, which is currently setting the ether ablaze (and which you can order now on Amazon). He will continue to relentlessly promote the crap out of it until you are forced to stab yourself in the eyes with knitting needles.

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