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The N.W, Ayer buiding in Philadelphia, an art deco masterpiece. N.W. Ayer was founded in 1869 and was the first advertising agency to create ads for clients rather than just book space for them.

I had a terrible premonition the other day.

I was waiting for a meeting at a prestigious London media agency. Their reception was wonderfully swanky, all extreme sports on the telly, big bowls of sweeties on the coffee table and agency propaganda smeared all over the walls. And I clicked.

We, the so called ‘creative agencies’, are not future of advertising, they are.


We thought that when the historic schism took place and media was amputated from our full service offerings, that the mantle of the ‘advertising agency’ stayed with us. All that had happened was that the sixth floor had been sliced off and multiply merged to provide enormous buying points for clients. It really had nothing much to do with us.
But things have gone very wrong and we have barely noticed.
For starters we forgot that the media companies were the original advertising agencies, providing creative services as an added value offering to clients that placed their advertising budget with the agency.
Secondly, we allowed ourselves to be saddled with the ‘creative’ agency monica rather than defending the advertising agency label with our lives. There is something oh so demeaning about being labelled the ‘creative’ agency, talk about being damned with feint praise.
Thirdly, as our receptions got more grungy and ‘transparent’, showing that we no longer believed in the division of public and private space, theirs got ever more spectacular consuming more and more of the UK’s production of chrome. These days media companies even look more like advertising agencies than we do.
But this is no accident, pissed off at years of bringing up the rear in pitch presentations, the media boys and girls are out for blood.
They desperately want the primary client relationship because as the ‘creative’ agencies we clearly have no interest in sales or even advertising effectiveness whereas they are the custodians of the client’s budget – sensible and cautious as you would be with such an onerous responsibility.
They are, even as we speak, maneuvering behind our backs while we re-arrange the magic markers in colour order.
We have already witnessed their acquisition of digital capabilities, the next step will be to buy up small creative shops so at long last they have some creative people they can boss about.
And that of course will be the last straw – when the buggers can do their own ads.
Full service will have come full circle.

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