By the time you read this on Wednesday, March 3rd, my legendary speech at the 4A’s “Transformer” Conference in San Francisco on Monday, March 1st, will be part of advertising history. It may perhaps become famous, but will more than likely end up being infamous. Why so… Firstly, when you consider that last year on AdScam, I described the 4A’s conference as a “Giant Wankfest.” Secondly because I will be speaking to about 1200 representatives of the BDA’s and holding companies I take great pleasure in kicking the shit out of on a daily basis.
But, what the hell… Here is a synopsis of what I said…
Firstly… Thanks and hugs to Nancy Hill for allowing me to grace the stage of the 2010 Four A’s conference after having described last years event as a “Giant Wank Fest!” Hopefully, you are all avid readers of AdScam, my piss and vinegar take on the current state of the ad biz, which is increasingly living up to George Orwell’s definition of what we do… “Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill pail.”
So, how to transform the business?
It’s all rather simple really… Without the aid of Power Point, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or MySpace… Oh yes, I forgot, we don’t talk about that last one any more do we. Instead of leaping forward, let’s look back.
When I speak at conferences, seminars, ad clubs and college campuses, the one question I get asked more than any other is… As you’ve been in advertising since Genghis Khan invented the USP, you must have seen many changes…
To which I answer… Well, actually, I’ve only seen two major ones… The first was the creation of the Internet and the subsequent development of New Media… The second was the conglomerization of the business.
Meaning, that currently all the BDA’s, with the exception of One… Wieden… Belong to one of the four holding companies. All of which are publicly traded and run by bean counters… Which means that their overall concern is making the quarterly numbers… Or, as the CFO of a major BDA once said, when informed they had just won a very prestigious account, well known for allowing their agencies to do excellent creative work… Fuck the work… What about the money?
My solution to this sad state of affairs?
The management of every single BDA, should engage in leveraged buy-outs, cut off the umbilical of their respective holding company, which is daily costing them upwards of thirty percent of their income, and get back to the business of creating advertising, rather than spreadsheets.
Clients were happier, and stayed around much longer, when we stuck to our knitting, creating great work that delivered measurable results for a fair and agreed price. We don’t need any more agencies of the future… Like the last unfortunate example that lasted less than two years, and which the other constituent agencies of that holding company will be paying for for a very long time. We should be looking back to the agencies of the past and figuring out what it was that made them great.
As David Ogilvy said on the very last page of “Confessions of an Advertising Man” when asked if advertising should be abolished… He replied, “No, but it must be reformed.”
So, perhaps instead of talking about “Transformation” we should be talking about “Reformation.”
I have ten seconds for questions… Or you can meet me in the bar.
How it went down… I’ll report on later!!!
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.