I’ve read two posts over the last few days that really seemed to paint agencies in a negative light. Being an agency woman for an agency that bears my family name, I can’t help but take these attacks on agencies to heart. I know – it’s not personal, it’s business. But for me, business is all about the personal. So, let’s move on!
The Pitch is Not Representative of All Agencies
The first post, called “Traditional Advertising is Truly Dead,” was written by Robert Bruce for CopyBlogger. Robert doesn’t tend to mince words like a lot of folks in the CopyBlogger family, so it’s not a surprise that he doesn’t handle his perspective with kid gloves here. Let’s take a look at this post carefully.
It begins with a warning:
“If you’re addicted to spending ungodly amounts of money in an effort to interrupt enough people into becoming “aware” of your product, service, or idea … skip this. You ain’t gonna like it.”
Well, I could write a whole series of posts about how this is not an accurate assessment of “traditional” advertising efforts, but suffice to say I am not sure this is framing the conversation in a 100% accurate or fair way.
Next, Bruce quotes a person from one of the agencies in the first episode of The Pitch, a new show on AMC that pits one agency against another. The quote: “We pride ourselves on creativity, not playing it safe, doing things that no one has ever seen before.” Bruce is flummoxed by this quote. He says, “Creating things that “nobody has seen before” — aside from the hyperbole of that statement — could work well as ride in an amusement park, or a fireworks display, but it’s the kiss of death in the art of selling.”
I’m not so sure about that. I don’t know the whole context of the quotation (that’s right, I’m an agency woman and don’t want to watch this show) but as an agency woman, I can say that if you are in a niche business, it’s pretty hard to talk about things in ways that will stand out. I’m sure Subway has a similar problem (they were the ones being pitched in the first episode). How much can you say about a sandwich, anyway? I am not sure that the “entertainment value” is what is at stake here. Your agency should provide you with something that strengthens your brand and makes you memorable.
The next big statement in this post is this: “If you’re throwing brand advertising at the masses and hoping something will stick, you’re playing a game that’s already over. Consumers have taken their ball and gone home.”
Again, this is a pretty broad statement to make, and I am just not convinced it’s true. Our work indicates that a lot of professionals still prefer to receive e-newsletters that are nothing more than product announcements in their inbox. They WANT to know what’s new in their industry. There are people who subscribe, still, to every professional publication that is relevant to the. They WANT to read the newest thoughts. They WANT to see what’s out there. Yes, they even participate in ad impact studies. Which means they look at the ads. They recall them. A lot of them still act on those ads. Consumers have gone home – ie away from traditional advertising? Certainly some have. There’s a reason newspapers are going broke. But not everyone. And if you’re a company that has had success using traditional marketing, you shouldn’t stop based on the idea that the “game is over.”
One final statement that buzzed me wrong in this post:
The equation used to be: money x media = business.
The new equation is: time x media = business.
I think this is a false comparison, and it’s at the heart of why so many companies are struggling with social media today. Time IS money. If you are spending time blogging, you are paying your salary (or someone else’s) to do that. Time is money. Traditionally rooted or not, you have to cope with this basic business truth.
The second post came my way from Chris Brogan. His post is called Nobody Reads Agency Blogs – Or Why You Need Skin in the Game. Now, Chris wrote this post based on an article he found via Jason Falls – it’s over here. And that article includes the following quote:
“Nobody reads agency blogs, and there are so many out there it’s impossible for people to keep up anyway,” said Sam Weston, director of communications at digital agency Huge. “We put ours on hiatus while we figure out what we want to do with it. We do use Facebook and Twitter. We’ve figured out what works for us there.”
It’s a real shame this quote came from an agency person. It doesn’t make sense to make a statement like this.
Nobody reads agency blogs, or nobody read YOUR agency blog?
Now Chris sort of veers away from the agency thing and notes that nobody wants to read a boring blog no matter who it’s by, and that’s what’s missing from the quote by Sam Weston. You could be an astronaut, but if your blog site is more boring than a pale piece of milktoast, you’re not going to have a lot of readers. Period.
This is not an agency thing. This is a blog thing. This is a Web 2.0 thing. Was the Huge blog too self-promotional? Were they not getting good buzz because they’re only turning to Facebook and Twitter now? Who knows. But this is not good ground to say that agency blogs are boring and dead.
By the way, I have to point out that if you’re here reading this, you’re reading a blog post by an agency woman. As the kids say…#justsayin.
Yep, I’m harumphed
I really do not understand why agencies get bashed so often. Posts like these seem to be increasing, not decreasing. Factually, agencies are diverse with different missions, different ways of working, different…all sorts of stuff. Saying that “agencies are…” is like saying “People are…” To me, painting with such a broad stroke, especially if you are not in the agency world, is just a gimme blog post or article. People will pass it along and unfortunately, many will agree. Traditional = yucky. Agency = bad.
Some agencies are yucky. Some agencies are bad. Some agency blogs are probably crap.
I’d venture to say the same thing is true those in the social media world. Or in the laundromat world. Or in the cooking world.
Give agencies a break, eh? Just this once?
What do you think?
First Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sincerelyhiten/6348866375/ via Creative Commons
Second Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scragz/91147636/ via Creative Commons