George Parker: So… What Was Transformed?

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

As I mentioned in my last column, I was one of eight “Transformers” chosen to speak at last week’s 4 A’s conference in San Francisco. I must confess this was more than merely interesting as it reinforced my continuing thesis that not only is advertising the world’s dumbest business; it manages to employ a great number of people who probably couldn’t get a job at their local hamburger joint.

The few sessions that I sat through (I was only there for a day, as that was all they would cover my expenses for, the cheap bastards) were less than inspiring. Probably because on that day, most of the sessions were concerning media and so replete with eye glazing discussions of datametrics and all the other measurement bullshit BDA’s love to go on and on about. As AdAge put it… “The agenda and speakers felt more media-led than management-focused, with absences among senior executives from large creative shops, a group to whom the management conference has long laid claim.” This was borne out by the seeming lack of interest in thinking about the tremendous impact emerging media channels such as mobile are having on the ad biz.

I did my “Transformer” thing on how the BDA’s should buy themselves back from the clutches of the evil holding companies. This was greeted by a combination of humor and horror, but when I finished my five minutes in three and invited anyone with questions to join me in the bar on the ground floor, a surprising number did… Including Mr. PSFK himself, my old mate Piers. He even bought a couple of beers. Fucking amazing! The reaction was better than I expected, as I was in a way, stepping into the lions den. Obviously, many thought it was intended as a joke and I was just engaging in my usual shit stirring, but I explained that I was actually serious in my belief that this will be the only way to save the industry. Not that it will ever happen. That’s one bottle you’ll never be able to re-cork.

What was surprising was that there was virtually no discussion on agency remuneration, the loss of thousands of skilled people, the erosion of the overall standard of work, and what I consider to be a major problem, the increasing use by clients of agency search consultants. These are vultures whose primary function is to grind out the best possible deal for the client, with the competing agencies compelled to offer to work for increasingly smaller margins. Agencies who agree to compete with each other in a review process managed by these fucktards, deserve everything that happens to them.

All in all, well worth the effort, even if it did mostly reinforce my impressions of the current state of the ad biz. And I did get a lot of free drinks after my speech. Even from Piers.

George Parker is a guest columnist for psfk.com. He 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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