Who is to blame?
Image courtesy of Planoscorpio
Say what you like about Cannes but at its best it still serves as a barometer for where our industry and our product is heading. Most notably the Titanium shortlist, packed as it is with the coolest work from the coolest agencies and representing the new creative dividend that is on offer to brands that put participation at the heart of their work.
But the obvious question is that if this is the sort of work we all admire from the sort of agencies we all admire how come the UK is so poorly represented? Having offered the industry creative leadership for so many years is our inability to compete with the Droga 5s, Crispins, Goodbys and Nitros of this world proof that the UK is to be a foot note in the future of creative communications?
Ok so the Great Schlep emerged from a unique set of historical circumstances and perhaps its unfair to flagellate ourselves over much for failing to deliver campaigns of this nature day in day out. However, work like Queensland’s ‘Greatest Job on Earth’ and the Whopper ‘Facebook Friend Sacrifice’ came from the kind of briefs that grace our desks on a weekly basis.
So where should we lay the blame for our inability to capitalise on the new creative dividend? Who exactly, in the parlance of our times, doesn’t get it?
Well it sure ain’t the great British consumer that is getting in the way. Educated by Google, trained by Ebay and connected by Facebook our consumers are quite clearly ready to play and in substantial numbers.
And it is genuinely no longer the agency world that is dragging its collective feet. Sure the orthodox advertising agencies may have been a little slow on the uptake but once we got with the programme ur ambitions, attitudes and capability to deliver the campaigns of the future changed radically.
No, without a doubt the people struggling hardest to ‘get it’ are within the client community. It is their silo’s, their pre-testing regimes, their moribund metrics, their accepted wisdoms, their fear of risk, their politics and their obsession with short-form TV advertising that is the most significant break on the greatest future facing work coming out of the UK. Sure there are some inspirational marketers inside our greatest brand owners but invariably they sit at the helm of organisations that struggle desperately to brief and buy campaigns that have even one foot in the twenty first century.
For UK advertising to lead the world again we must now ask our client community whether it is prepared to step out of its collective comfort zone and become once again the patrons of revolutionary marketing.
This post originally appeared in a column in Campaign
4 Replies to “Who is to blame?”
of course saatchi didn’t have this problem when Droga was running it
PS. Nitro, is also over here
It feels like client-side marketing functions are becoming increasingly like project management offices.
The best young marketing talent (i.e. the most enthusiastic and motivated) is quickly snapped up by the agencies that offer variety of experience and a more ‘glamorous’ career.
Why would any rising star choose instead to work in an insulated marketing department where their focus is on delivering finance-led KPIs to senior managers who see marketing as a fluffy, expendable afterthought?
What we’re left with is marketing teams led by tired ex-agency people who are looking for an easier life, and staffed by young, inexperienced graduates who have little marketing background and even less understanding of what makes great marketing.
As a consequence, client teams rely more and more on their agency partners to deliver the work, yet struggle to justify those partners’ recommendations within their own organisations because they don’t understand them well enough.
I hope I’m being overly dramatic, but I’m sad to say that I see this every day. The only comfort I can offer you is that your situation is not unique to the UK.
“The only comfort I can offer you is that your situation is not unique to the UK”
Much of this post(Campaign column)also has been/is being expressed in the Americas and other parts of the world.
The UK has had a significant edge in digital penetration. Perhaps there has been a (mistaken) assumption that creative leadership (as defined by Cannes and other awards)would follow.
“Sure the orthodox advertising agencies may have been a little slow on the uptake but once we got with the programme our ambitions, attitudes and capability to deliver the campaigns of the future changed radically”.
Even if that were true, perception still is lagging reality ;-)
Uk has to do much effort to get his position back. But I´m sure it´ll happen soon.
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