Advertising Needs Good People To Do Something

I've written before about how advertising people have to take their share of the responsibility for the current poor state of the advertising business.

This has upset quite a few people, I know.

They prefer to lay the blame squarely at the feet of clients or holding companies.

The thing is, I agree with them.

I'm not saying that poor clients (not all clients, but an increasing, poor, majority) and the giant holding companies are not to blame.

My point is simply that as advertising people, we have two clear choices; we can go along with it, or we can fight it.

And going along with it is the same as accepting it.

And accepting it is the same as endorsing it.

And if you're endorsing it, you're part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Because no one else is going to change it for us.

Do you think that suddenly, the holding company board and shareholders are going to go "Oh, okay you're right, this is terrible. We're going to to make all of our companies independent again and put our money elsewhere"?

No, they are not. Not while they can still squeeze a buck out of you they're not, anyway.

And do you think those legions of poor quality clients are going to suddenly say "Goshdarnit, my marketing qualification wasn't worth shit, I should really stop imposing a culture of fear and monetary pressure on my agency, whilst simultaneously listening to their recommendations more and not try to do their jobs for them"?

No. It's not going to happen.

So you are left with those choices above. Either fight and push and bite and scratch for what you think is right.

Or just go along with it.

But, I know, I am realistic. I don't expect everyone in advertising to fight.

There are hundreds of people in advertising who are just happy to be in the room.

People stealing a living from advertising. They have neither talent, nor energy, nor principles. They are happy to just be working in advertising.

I'm not interested in those people, they're lucky to get the entry keycard, and they know it. They're not going to rock the boat.

Change is in the hands of the good people. Smart people, talented people, energetic people, principled people.

These are the people who we need to fight back. To start their own companies, with principles, with standards, and who stand up for the right way to do things.

Creatively-led companies.

So that we hold the best work, the best talent, the best people to ransom.

Accessible only to those clients willing to pay reasonable fees, allow proper amounts of development time and who want to build respectful relationships.

Only then will we see things really start to change.

Because, as Edmund Burke famously said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”


  1. Excellent post.

    "People who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither." Ben Franklin. That is what most people in advertising do try to stay secure. It's a sorry state.

  2. Advertising should press the self-destruct button and start again.

  3. The distinction you're not making is that if you're working for any of the holding company owned agencies, you're already agreeing to be part of the problem. Whether you're "good" or "bad".

    The "good" people you're talking about go off and start their own agency (like you), because they realised long ago that you cannot change the behemoth that is the holding company owned agency, its only interest being profit margins.

    The "bad" people outnumber the "good" ones 10:1 in a BDA (big dumb agency), simply because of its size. And if you're raging to an audience of none about how things should be, they'll get rid of you real fast. This is especially bad if you're just starting out, trying to make a name for yourself.

    I'm not saying that good people shouldn't rock the boat, but the only successful way I've seen people do it is to somehow slip past some outstanding work in a BDA, only to then leave and do their own thing.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm completely with you on this. I just think you're barking up the wrong tree.

  4. There is no tree.

    You're either part of the problem, or part of the solution.


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