Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Soon, You May Not Be Working In An Ad Agency

I had dinner with a friend the other night, who happens to be a headhunter. Her general comment on our industry was this very straightforward bombshell: "It's shrinking."

Of course there's still the same amount of stuff being made. It's just that less of it is being made by ad agencies.

It's starting to be made by clients in-house (e.g. Apple), by media agencies, by media owners (including the 'new media' owners like Google and Facebook), and by a barbarian horde of all-around content providers, such as Vice, Maker Studios, etc.

Have you seen 'Dear Kitten'? (above). If not, watch it immediately.

This was made by BuzzFeed.

Not an ad agency.


(Incidentally, I love the way there's a header at the beginning which announces 'BuzzFeed Presents'. Wouldn't it be cool if we could open our ads with 'DDB Presents...')

An article in last week's Wall Street Journal picked up on this trend.

Titled 'Tech Firms Pull Talent Away From Ad Agencies', it cites someone called Amy Hoover, the president of recruiters Talent Zoo, saying that "almost 50% of creative jobs available today — including copywriters, designers, creative directors and content creators — aren’t at agencies, compared with 30% in 2010." 

And more than 50% of Facebook’s North American in-house creative unit, Creative Shop, come from an agency background.

Despite perceptions that the pay is higher at tech firms, money isn’t necessarily the draw at these new creative destinations. There is “pop-culture cachet that some of these new players can offer, which is attractive to people in their 20s and 30s,” according to Bob Jeffrey, non-executive chairman of J. Walter Thompson.

It’s a challenge for agencies, but if you're a creative person it’s surely good news, as it means you have more options.

So in summary, I'm actually feeling a little less doom-and-gloom than usual.

Because despite the seismic changes that are tearing through our industry like an electric carving knife through a pair of testicles... we will all still have jobs, people!

They just might not be in an ad agency.


Phil K. said...

I've been wondering: was the current iPhone 6 campaign done in house or at MAL?

Anonymous said...

I think the reason that spot was done by Buzzfeed is because it's based on a piece of content created by their CEO, called 'Sad Cat Diary'- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKffm2uI4dk
So at least Friskies did the right thing by going to the source.
For what it's worth, I also prefer the original.

Ben said...

@Phil: it was MAL.

Anonymous said...

Good article…but since most of this content being produced for the likes of buzz feed is free, it also makes the jobs far less paying…more like a commodity than ever….screw that.

Anonymous said...

It has 22m views, but I doubt it sold any cat food.

angus said...

Dear Scamp, Dear Kitten, Dear God,

It's like an advert only a lot longer (and not quite as good).

I have a filthy, dirty admission to make.
I don’t think digital marketing is helping to sell stuff.

There, I’ve said it.

And now that I have, I can already hear the whining Toyota Hilux of the Interactive State hysterically bouncing over the dusty berms towards me as the beardy guy on the back cocks his RPG 7.

I fear there is no longer a place to hide in the open plan, slightly more cost-effective agency spaces of Noho, Hoxton, Shoreditch, Clerkenwell, or the newly Omnicom-annexed Southbank for an infidel such as I.

But then, do I really want to sell my soul to write mood films and then call them adverts (because that’s how the client sold it to her boss?)
Do I really want to face yet another group-ideation circle-jerk of game-changing, story-telling content as everyone absentmindedly FBs their friends from behind their MacBook Pros?
Do I really want to lavish a thousand billable hours of frame-by-frame crafting into case study films that boast of not creating a campaign, but a movement?
Do I really want to squander even more billable hours drawing up storyboards for user-invisible 234 x 60 pixel half-banners (when, actually, it would take less time to come up with a proper idea for a half-decent poster that could actually be scanned by the real retinas of a gazillion commuter’s eyeballs, infinitesimally).
Or an television commercial that, when done well, would doubtless be remembered for considerably longer than the Planck time it takes a Millennial to press SKIP on the YouTubes for an ill-advised RBS financial product pre-roll?

Do I really have to defend any semblance of an idea by wielding the light sabre of Web analytics and other faux-statistical trex that can be measured in clicks, or likes, or hits (anything other than silly sales goals).

Do I really want to spend my evenings rubbing against pushy craft-beer-addled yuppies hiding behind their peak beards in crowd-funded experiential pop-ups in that famuuussss street under the micturated arches of Waterloo Station... or try my hand at a projection-mapped virtual skatepark on the AstroTurf of that totes deck ‘city’ made from re-purposed freight containers dumped across the road from Shoreditch House?

Do I?

Do I really need to “change my tomorrow” and get a hacker mind with an MBA in Geofencing, coding (give me strength!), viral immersion or social labbing from Hyper fucking Island?

Does anyone really want to do any of this?

Of course they do.
Because they don’t know any better.

That is, until ad blockers really start to kick-in and cram themselves into our bony little, lazy-client-pummelled bottom-lines.

Then we’re all going to have to hobble out of the shadows, pick the cellophane off that layout pad with nails bitten to the quick (good luck with that), and suck on our Pentel rollerballs as we try to remember how we all once did A.D.V.E.R.T.I.S.I.N.G.

Perhaps even without using cats?

Scamp said...

Dear Angus, your comment made me feel slightly discombobulated.

You clearly know your way around a pen. In fact, you sound like you have a couple of D&AD pencils to your name at least. Maybe more.

And while your comparison between interactive advertising and Islamic terror is very naughty, I have to admit, you just about got away with it.

The reason for my quandary is I am worried why it should be that someone as brilliant as you should be 1) questioning the new world 2) not enjoying it.

Let's take Point 1 first. Google (the company) is worth gajillions. The interactive advertising industry as a whole is worth mega-jillions. People wouldn't do it if it didn't work. The data is freely available to show that it does. Where were you when you last bought something? Probably the internet, right? That's where the audience is going, mate.

Point 2. The new world is awesome. #LikeAGirl, Dove Portraits... if the new world was only longer ads, that tell deeper stories, that in itself would be enough to make it awesome. But there's more, a lot more. Maybe it's because I spent time at Naked, not just at 'traditional' agencies, but I'm into it.

Oh, and your suggestion about not using cats? Come on. That's just mental!

Anonymous said...

yeah but mate, that kitten ad is proper boring mate isn't it?


Scamp said...

If it's boring, why does it have 22 million views?

Anonymous said...

Dear Scamp, your comment made me feel slightly irritated.

Yes, Google is worth bejillionz and yes, we buy stuff online. But as someone much smarter than me once said: the web is a great tool to satisfy demand, not generate it. Let's not even get started about the online ad fraud that's going on at the moment, which has CMO's and media agencies shitting their pants. I've also been using ad block for years now and it baffles me why anyone would browse the web without one. It's only a matter of time before the millenialZzzz will catch on.

To your second point, I'd much rather direct you towards this article: http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/jun/08/cannes-lions-advertising-festival-disconnect-consumer-technology

While it talks about Cannes, it does touch on the fact that advertising is turning its focus away from people, celebrating its own cleverness instead. Like a girl? Please. Brands should stick to advertising products and stop telling people how to fucking live their lives. The only reason they're doing it is because they don't want to be caught doing plain old "advertising". Because apparently that's evil and we should try and make the world a better place. If they'd really believe that they would stop dodging taxes, pollute our environment, and outsource to the cheapest slave worker factory assembling iPhones where workers jump off the roof because it's a nightmare in there.

Scamp said...

I think that using an ad blocker is a bit mean. You're depriving a website - a website that you find interesting or useful - of their revenue. It's akin to illegal downloading.

The Guardian article you link to is very, very interesting. I read it this morning. Have to be honest, I agree with it wholeheartedly. Personally I'm just not interested in shit tech ideas made purely to win awards, rather than to genuinely market a product or service.

Your criticism of Like A Girl is very unfair. Nothing wrong with a brand having a point of view, especially if that means sticking up for its customers. See "we're for dogs" or "we're for the crazy ones."

People jumping out of buildings is a real problem. I'll give you that.

angus said...

i don't think the lord-god berners-lee's vision for the www included users having to swat away banners and pre-rolls and other sticky little mosquitvertising before they get to their search engine findings (ok, of kittens). if the commercial sites are wholly dependent on using the internet as one huge flyposter site, then perhaps they should think of a different business model as it's really, really annoying (and, as i said at the start of my original note, doesn't actually work).

point 1. i do buy stuff from the internet, absolutely. but when i do find myself in a shop - i'm not constantly bombarded by lots of disparate, laughably irrelevant brands buzzing round my grill. i'm afraid i don't agree that the internet is where the audience going (i'm hopefully not confusing our audience with the user - they are two very different things). in fact, our advertising audience is turning away in droves. when did you, your wife, child, mother or father last watch through a pre-roll, or even notice the brand attached to a banner? when did they go to a website for milk and start getting excited about the content?...

point 2. the new world IS awesome - i couldn't possibly agree more. but what we advertising-dicks tend to forget is that it wasn't invented for us. it was invented to be the world-wide democratization of information. for free. without let or hindrance. but digital limpets are rather spoiling it - both for themselves, the advertising industry - and their rather gullible, nose-less clients.

ps. always, always question everything. on this, i know i'm right. a dinosaur, but right.

Anonymous said...

FYI - people do spend money on things that don't work in their £ billions - be it homeopathy, self help books by the dozen, cheap cling film, turning books into films, Fermando Torres, hangover cures, FIFA, most of marketing, loyalty programmes...

It's not about whether something works but more about are there better ways.

Scamp said...

Let's say Fernando Torres has a hangover, so he wraps himself in cheap clingfilm, calls FIFA to see if they can recommend any homeopathic remedies, and they recommend he join their loyalty programme. Even if all that came to pass... it still wouldn't be the case that the effectiveness of digital advertising is a myth.

Scamp said...

Angus - do we know each other?

Anonymous said...

No it wouldn't scamp - but that wasn't your point - your point was people don't do things that don't work. And they do - always have done, always will do. Ever sold something that didn't work? Surely it must work they bought it? Doesn't stack up does it? Just because loads of people do something or believe something doesn't make it true, right or magical or fir for purpose. You know that don't you Mister Atheist?

So now you have to show us how digital advertising is so amazing - evidence time. I think the evidence is scant Scamp. Anyone done that scant Scamp thing before?

Angus makes some good points doesn't he?

Anonymous said...

ewan p is a chum we may have in common?

Anonymous said...

Baudrillard said "the great person is ahead of their time, the smart make something out of it, and the blockhead, sets themselves against it." We are all at that crossroads now.

Scamp said...

Ah, Angus W. I thought it might be you...

Scamp said...

@7.40 (and previous) Anonymous: Is that you, Bob?

Sell! Sell! said...

I like the sound of Angus and Anonymous.

Bentos said...

Worth a look, ZeFrank head of video at Buzzfeed talking about how they approach video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEWBQacYAWo