From Sorrell to Sutherland?

The BBC commissioned a program on advertising a while back.
Aired after Mad Men of course, cultural commentator Peter York looked back in time, and assessed the ad men of the past.
Endless brilliant stories were told.
Like the time someone cut a client’s tie off because he fell asleep during a presentation. Just brilliant.

Eccentric, adventurous and reckless.
That was the portrait.
It talked of advertising’s role since the 60s, and how it’s changed.
More corporate. More client facing.
It’s an undeniable truth.
A fact I understand more than ever as I finish off the clients leftover biscuits through lunch, sending them emails saying how great it was to see them and how I totally understand why they want a third full rebrief.

The pin up of this new adland was Martin Sorrell of WPP.
This self admitted bean counter casts a stark contrast with the Tim Bells and Peter Marsh’s of the past.
He may be the face, but the conclusions Peter York drew from this were a little strong.
In his research, did he not come across the inspiringly creative and insightful Rory Sutherland?
He may not have cut any ties off sleeping Ogilvy clients, but he is creative and uses his own persona and personality to drive his business.

Maybe it’s just the culture.
More companies. More agencies.
Shared fees. Less loyalty.
The advertising boom saw an arrival of  new agencies and new talent.
Its harder to stand out.
What makes a client need you that much more than another agency?

Regular reviews and tough ROIs were made kings.
Profit margins are small within every agency.
These margins put the client in the driving seat.
Financially and even creatively. Unfortunately.

Perhaps digital’s growth is because agencies are again starting to offer an expertise, which most clients cannot challenge as fully.

There is a knowledge gap.
Let’s capitalise on it. While we still can.
Then maybe we can start cutting ties…instead of jobs.

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