Are Traditional Advertising Agencies Going Extinct?

23242 - bw dinosaur necktie pipe raptor suit

As long as there is traditional advertising in print and broadcast media, there will be agencies dedicated to creating it. However, to eschew new media is to dabble ones toes perilously deep in the tar pits.

Take Neanderthal and Stone, in business since 1965. They still club viewers with heavy TV schedules and try to light fires under readers of magazine ads and direct mail. The owner contends that there is plenty of meat to be picked from newspaper advertising and that jingles can sell anything.  But, their larger craniums allow them to engage with a brand from logo design to multimedia campaign.

Across the street is the upstart Homo Erectus Group, in business since 2009. They have discovered fire and can illuminate consumers in more targeted ways and at more opportune times. Being more social creatures, they recognize the opportunities of Facebook , Twitter and Pinterest. And they know how to turn a website from an expensive brochure into a working tool. Fascinated with how shiny their spears are, they often can’t see when the net, snare and blow to the head with a rock might be better ideas.

On the Extinct-O-Meter, Neanderthal and Stone registers as high risk due to limited tools and inability to use the wheel. They lose business because they can’t take their clients into new hunting grounds while also offering traditional fare. Homo Erectus registers Medium Risk as they can get lots and lots of project work, but many clients won’t trust them to understand the nuances of the brandscape.

One will survive and even thrive, because they occupy high ground others can’t reach. The other is already up to its occipital ridge in tar, but smart enough not to go any deeper.

But, it’s likely that the iron-working, supple-skulled executive from Homo Sapiens and Partners is going to get the biggest kills when pitch time comes around. His agency combines evolved social skills and more advanced tools with the ability to understand when and where to use them. He can hunt in all media, throw messages with the accuracy of Homo Erectus, and design them based on the ancient lore of Neanderthal and Stone.

He also smells better.

– John Graham, Copy Director @ Creative Dimensions

Is Advertising the Work of the Devil?


It is.

If we follow the memes of the Judeo-Christian tradition, we see that the devil’s most potent tool for winning over human souls is temptation. Uh, oh. That’s what we do! Are we evil when we tempt someone with a Buy One, Get One Free offer on their tires? Will a reader succumbing to visions of cleaner carpets at a sizeable discount be sucked down to H-E-Double-hockey-sticks?

I like to think that saving money on car insurance, living healthier, looking sexier and planning with the right investment house are good things. But are we doing the work of the Good Samaritan when we talk of whiter whites and brighter brights, or are we appealing to the consumer’s base sense of vanity? Are we selling more for less or mortal sin?

This is a huge responsibility we bear. On reflection, perhaps we should ask if it is we who are evil or if it is the products and services we promote? (That way we can blame it on the client and everybody’s happy.) Are there relative levels of evil? Maybe showing a healthy child drinking milk is not so bad. Maybe showing a happy couple skipping through a field when the product is a sexual enhancement pill is heinous. Then again, some think milk creates bad cholesterol and that sex is good for your heart. It’s confusing.

Besides, is being a devil really a bad thing? Who can hate the Dirt Devil, or deviled eggs or devil’s food cookies? I mean, if Betty Crocker makes them, how can they be bad? Wait. I see the evil at work there. Decades of Betty Crocker branding might be making me think she’s not bad, when in fact she eats babies for breakfast. Allow me another line of argument.

What would the world be without advertising? Commerce would suffer. Things would be primitive. How would anyone know where to buy a new plow or that one even exists? How could one find a reliable mastodon exterminating service? Life would be simpler. Perhaps more peaceful (mastodon attacks not withstanding.) People could go back to face-to-face barter and stay blissfully ignorant of the resources on the other side of the hill. Luxuries would vanish. Basic comforts would be rare. Life would hover slightly above subsistence survival. Tribe A would be fearful that Tribe B would come and take their stuff. Wars. Violence. Life under a cloud of fear. A little advertising could’ve prevented that.

So, we’re off the hook. We’re not evil. We’re not devils. We’re wise facilitators of commerce who make the world a better place, who raise standards of living and encourage indulgence in life’s finery. Hmm, maybe we’re more like angels. Then again, as I think of the pugilistic little Hawaiian Punch guy, the beer-and-babes Dos Equis Man and the Go Daddy Girl, we’re much more fun when we embrace our inner devils.

John Graham, Copy Director @ Creative Dimensions