It's a well discussed topic that the advertising business is suffering from a lack of the maverick and challenging thinking that has traditionally given it it's edge.
You need the mavericks - they're the ones who ask the difficult questions, and who won't accept the lazy or easy answer.
"All progress depends on the unreasonable man" as George Bernard Shaw said.
You can point to a number of reasons why this might the case.
Within agencies, things like agencies increasing in size meaning they have become more like huge corporate structures, or the pressure of holding companies leading to a 'play-it-safe' mentality.
And bigger, societal factors like the economic pressures and a less buoyant jobs market meaning people are scared to risk their jobs or their income. But being outspoken and maverick in ad agencies used to be a positive quality. Why is it now seen as a bad thing? Why do people now feel at risk if they poke their head above the parapet and question the status quo?
Certainly most mainstream agencies are largely led these days by the boring wankers who greased their way up the pole without upsetting anyone over the last ten or fifteen years. And sometimes it's self-perpetuating – mavericks like and hire other mavericks – these civil-service types hire and promote other grey, smiley yes-men.
But advertising is a worse business for it. And the value to businesses is diminished as a result. Ad agencies used to be a kind of way of gently cradling the creative mavericks needed to get something great – businesses could access that thinking from people who they would never employ directly.
But now agency people are largely hard to distinguish from people in other businesses.
How does the ad agency break out of this cycle?
I'd love to hear your thoughts, dear readers.
My suggestion is the same for a lot of these problems: the good people should start their own agencies.