Are Traditional Advertising Agencies Going Extinct?

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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

Invasion of the Facebook Robots

robots recently ran a story entitled, “How Facebook is Replacing Ad Agencies with Robots.” While the ever-innovative Facebook has created a golden goose with their side bar ads, my Scoff-o-Meter pegs out at the thought of their destroying agency jobs.

For one, Facebook is social media, not the entire spectrum of media.

For two, these killer robot ads are new and never were the domain of ad agencies, ergo nobody’s losing a job over them. Teach a couple of monkeys the Facebook interface, feed them content and you have yourself a robot ad staff.

For three, the ads living in the Facebook ecosystem are very limited, direct-response ads without even the branding layer a print circular can deliver.

And, speaking of branding, I’ve yet to meet a robot that knew a thing about it. We’ve seen in study after study that with the proliferation of media and competition for consumer attention, branding is more important than ever. Good branding rarely jumps out of the brain of an in-house staffer. It comes from the informed brains of marketing specialists who’ve been down the road with a variety of businesses and have a deep understanding of markets and how the consumer interacts with them. Those specialists are called ad agencies.

Even the interactive phenomenon the Dos Equis brand created came from the mind of brand thinkers. It is still living large on Facebook, and I’m betting some talented agency people had more than a little to do with it.

New media does and will continue to challenge agencies, and we all know the rules redefine themselves daily. If you’re selling a commodity product where price is the distinguishing feature, call Facebook. If you have a service or product people need to care about before buying, call an agency.

Robots, as everyone knows, are best left to destroying planetary colonies in outer space.

– John Graham, Copy Director @ Creative Dimensions