Ad Agency Reviews: It’s Time for a [Another] Change



The ad business has always been stressful and cutthroat. I know this because I grew up watching Darren Stevens on Bewitched burning the midnight oil desperately searching for that brilliant tagline. Then, on the verge of losing his job, his wacky witch wife would make a mistake which would end up leading to the best ad campaign ever created.

Oh, if only we were all married to witches or to Don Draper. He makes the ad business look cool.

In the real world, without magic and martinis, it’s become even harder to land that big client mostly because the rules have changed. AdAge says the agency review process has gotten “totally out of control.” They participated in a panel discussion with top agency search consultants and what they heard was a lot of frustration and few solutions.

The biggest complaint is that things simply aren’t being done the old way. Normally, that would be a good thing, but not in this case. Different departments are getting in on the act, each with their own agenda. Worse, some companies have been resorting to open calls which means a company could be up against 100 other agencies.

With so many agencies vying for the same few accounts, the company is in a position to make crazy demands. Short turn around times, tight budgets and unreasonable presentation expectations all cut into the creative process. Brilliance takes time and presentations cost money. Even the best agencies are going to strike out some time and that’s money that’s not coming back to them. But what can you do? If you want to play, you’ve got to pay.

Search consultants suggest that agencies carve out a niche and stay active in social media so they’re the ones people think about when a job comes up. As for companies looking for a new campaign – remember that most ad men don’t have magic on their side, only knowledge, a good work ethic and a never-say-die team. Cut them some slack and they’ll make you look marvelous.