I've been mulling this one over for a while, and a few comments recently on post on this blog, and on Ben's have really made me wonder. Let's give this some context, there is the general feeling that the output of the industry has declined in quality, and alongside this, the relationships between client and agency have shifted. At the same time agencies have become very different places to work, more corporate, more fear, more late work, weekend working, more service culture.
There is a lot of debate about these factors and how they relate to each other, the relative cause and effect and so on.
I have a theory that at least part of this is down to the type of people who work in the industry today, and the type who are increasingly being recruited. Creative departments are almost exclusively staffed by people (mainly white, middle-class males) who went from school, to college, to an advertising course, then into the industry, child-like creatives to who seem happy to be treated like a tame crafter. Planning departments seem to attract and be staffed by scholarly theorists who are "intrigued by the human condition" or some such shite, with very little appetite for getting their hands dirty commercially. And account departments increasingly composed of people who quite like the idea of advertising but lack any discernible skills other than ability to say yes to everything.
People are encouraged to get on, collaborate, and be professional. Those who follow the line are promoted, those who question or make life difficult are cut down. In turn, this cycle encourages those safe types to hire more people like themselves, and foster the same play-it-safe, play-by-the-rules approach.
Who is standing up and standing out? No one, it seems. Just a bunch of boring yes-men too scared of losing their jobs to do anything about it, even if they wanted to.
Agencies, and the advertising industry, used to be defined by the dangerous, maverick thinking and attitudes of their people.
Conversely, these days advertising people seem to have adopted the servile, faux-service industry attitude of the agencies that employ them. Whilst the bean-counters run rough shod over the lot of them.
It's all arse-about-face.
If any of those descriptions above sound like you, maybe you're not actually a victim or symptom of the industry's malaise, but actually part of the problem.
This could have as much to do with the ad industry's decline as anything.