Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I was very inspired by Warren Berger's recent article in CA (Design Annual 50) about New York agency SS+K. Here’s why:

It’s a very cool, and unexpected evolution of CCO Marty Cooke. Here’s a guy who is featured in the D&AD’s Copywriter’s Bible, who joins a new agency and begins to have his doubts about it:

“I felt like I’d gone off the grid,” he says. Cook was used to doing a lot of high-profile commercials nad print ads, but that wasn’t the goal at SS+K. “This was not the place to come and build your TV reel,” Cooke says.

But he’s since been involved in amazing work like texting posters for Credo and NewsBreaker Live for That’s not just putting more work in your book. That’s pushing boundaries of what an ad agency is capable of.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, they embrace their DC roots. So many of us in advertising look down on political advertising as pedantic. Haughtily, we ask “What would happen if a political candidate had the guts to hire Goodby?” But SS+K finds the best of what works with DC-style advertising and runs with it.

Because of that, they clearly offer something different. So many agencies seem to be me-too agencies. “We do print, TV, online, and offer strategic marketing solutions with breakthrough creative blah blah blah.” But SS+K can put their stake in the ground and say, “We get political, and we can rally brands around a politically-charged cause and help them make money.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Traditional vs. Big Table Agencies

The latest issue of Communication Arts (Photography Annual 50) profiles Boone/Oakley, which I believe is one of the coolest, smartest boutiques to come along since VitroRobertson. They've got some solid print and TV, as well as some great ambient and outdoor stuff. And although I kind of miss the music and interaction of their old website, their latest homepage is downright brilliant.

The profile talks about their multi-player creative approach to each assignment, which involves more than just a copywriter/art director team reporting to a creative director. From the article:

"Think about how Bill Bernback revolutionized our industry simply by pairing a copywriter and an art director," Boone said. "Now the creative team is the copywriter, art director, interactive person, media person and the strategist/planner/account person. That's our industry's revolution today."

This reminds me of another CA article from this year's Interactive Annual (May/June issue) called "The Big Table: A New Model for Creative Work" by a freelance writer named Joe Shepter.

Shepter says the traditional model of AD/CW reporting to a CD "rests on the belief that creative ideas are independent from production. Copywriters and art directors are not required to have an intimate understanding of how work is produced." It's hard for me to disagree with that. I'm used to using my producers as a crutch (which is why I've always tried to surround myself with great ones).

Shepter uses the term "Big Table" to describe collaboration like Boone/Oakley's: "The list of participants varies, but usually includes writers, designers, Flash coders, database programmers, creative directors and, sometimes, even the receptionists who greet clients on their way in the door."

My initial reaction to this is resistance, and it's based on three of my favorite quotes:

A small group of A people can run circles around a large group of B people.

-Steve Jobs

A camel is a horse designed by committe.

-Sir Alec Issigonis

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: meetings.

-Dave Barry

To me, Big Table gatherings are open invitations for Design by Committee and it's big brother, Groupthink. I'd rather be in the more nimble, decisive A group. Even if it were just me and my partner.

But here's the thing. There are two statements in Shepter's article that clearly make the case for Big Table agencies. Here they are:

"Big Table agencies...believe that media is evolving so quickly that it's impossible for a copywriter and art director to know every way that ideas can be deployed...The only way to ensure that you have the best possible idea is to bring in creators and producers at the onset."

And he quotes an anonymous creative director saying, "The things we build aren't what an art director and copywriter can dream up. They wouldn't know that it was possible."

Again, it's hard for me to disagree with either of those. There are people out there writing code that goes over my head and blows my mind at the same time. Obviously this stuff can be used in fantastically cool ways to sell products and solve clients' problems. And most AD/CW teams I know would have a hard time going beyond, "Maybe we could do an iPhone app."

I'm not sure how to reconcile this yet. Maybe it's a Big Table agency with a benevolent dictator at the helm. Maybe it's separating teams and even agencies (like BBDO and ProximityBBDO). But it's pretty clear old school creative teams are more likely to be confined by old school solutions.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

42 Entertainment

42 Entertainment is a pretty fascinating company.

They're best known for the "I Love Bees" ARG which launched Halo 2, as well as the "Why So Serious?" work they did as a teaser for The Dark Knight.

They're also behind the "Flynn Lives" site that's teasing the new Tron movie.

If you go on their home page, you can opt in to follow them down the rabbit hole into their own ARG by providing your email address and phone number to receive text messages and other hints.

While their work is frequently featured in Creativity and other pubs of the ad industry, I'm not sure you'd call them an advertising agency. Their Wikipedia entry says they specialize in "creating and producing alternate reality games." Which means they know how to work online and do ambient/guerilla media - two areas traditional agencies have been trying to master themselves.

They probably don't pitch for accounts against traditional agencies like Chiat or Goodby. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some clients would work with 42 Entertainment and their agency of record on certain projects.

So while they may not be the next evolution of ad agencies, they're definitely a social media-catalyzed mutation. And their Grand Prix win at Cannes this year shows that mutation is pretty legitimate.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Coke views big agency networks

The August issue of the UK's Creative Review features an article titled "Coke: a simple story" which features Pio Schunker, Coca-Cola's "senior vice president for creative excellence, North America." Schunker, who used to work for Ogilvy New York, oversees a roster that includes Widen + Kennedy, Mother, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, and Turner Duckworth. He's also responsible for approving Coke's new look and "steadily piloting the idea through the Coke labyrinth."

"Their biggest battle, convincing Coke marketers that, no, it wasn't necessary to have a picture of some bubbles on the side of the can. People know Coke is a fizzy drink."
Two ideas about agencies really stood out to me in this piece:

  1. Schunker (remember a former Ogilvy guy) deliberately went with independents like Wieden and Mother. "The big networks, he says, were just giving Coke what they thought it wanted, not what they themselves believed in. He wanted to work with agencies and design studios who would, rather than simply 'stick around for the pay cheque', believe in what they were doing and walk away if they didn't get to do it."
  2. Schunker sees a problem with big agencies because of their well-intended, but fractured departments. "Big networks, he has said, typically present themselves as the 360 degree solutions ' but tend to be a loose confederation of completely disjointed companies that are so busy fighting with each other to figure out who gets the business, they can't be bothered to figure out how to solve our business.'"
As recent posts have shown, more agencies are diversifying their interests when they can. They buy design or interactive shops, or branch out into product development. But having "360 degree solutions" isn't really a solution if each tentacle is grasping for its own interest instead of the client's.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Long Tail of Agencies

When I left portfolio school, the hot shops to work for were Wieden + Kennedy, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Cliff Freeman & Partners, Fallon McElligott, and TBWA Chiat/Day. Places like VitroRobertson and Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy rounded out the boutique-y list.

Most of those big shops are still on top after a decade. But I think this list has vastly expanded. Ask one portfolio student where he wants to end up and he may give a similar list of tradition agencies.

But another may say his top picks are R/GA, AKQA, Anomaly or Atmosphere BBDO.

Another may say she wants to end up at BBH Labs, Lean Mean Fighting Machine, Poke or Dare Digital.

I wouldn't be surprised if some students graduate portfolio schools wanting to work at Google or Facebook.

Suddenly, Chris Anderson's Long Tail is beginning to make a lot of sense in the world of job-hunting students, as well as the kind of agencies clients need, and the kind of work agencies want to do.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How Can Agencies Make Money on Free?

I've been listening to Chris Anderson's new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price (which I downloaded free off iTunes).

You can hear what Anderson has to say about free here and here. You can read Malcolm Gladwell's dissent here. And Seth Godin's counter here.

But if you're in a hurry, the synopsis is that more and more companies are making more and more money giving things away for free. And the book is full of examples from Google to Webkins to Radiohead to Ryanair to the UC Berkeley.

But there are no examples of advertising agencies (unless you count Google). And if Anderson is right, sometime in the near future, someone is going to figure out how advertising agencies can adopt free. Maybe it's an agency giving free brand consultation. Or creative. Or strategic planning. They already do this to painful extremes when pitching new business. But maybe there's a way to do it with paying clients.

Here's a noble attempt rising from the primordial soup of the free economy. True, they're a creative team and not an agency. But it's a start.

If this all sounds counterintuitive, read Anderson's book. It may change your mind. And if you're willing to share any ideas on how agencies can use "free" to their advantage, I'd love to hear them. I'll post mine as soon as they come to me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Agencies vs. VCs

William Charnock is the co-head of strategic planning at JWT, and recently presented his ideas on advertising’s new business model in this Adweek article.

Charnock says that a year ago, while attending TED people would ask him “Which clients do you work for?” He answer was “We don’t really start with clients anymore.”

Charnock writes, More and more these days, we look for ideas we think people will be interested in and help to get these up and running…Some of these we create from scratch and some of them we find in places like [TED].

He continues: Now, I know agency-generated and intellectual property is nothing new, and JWT is only one of many agencies exploring this business model as an alternative to working for clients and handing the intellectual property over to them. My recent experience with JWT’s innovation and incubation venture, called Sector 64. Had proven to me that we can successfully create intellectual properties which we license to clients, retaining or sharing the intellectual ownership of the idea.

And according to Charnock, the advertising industry is better equipped to handle this business than the traditional VCs.

We have access to funds through our clients and our media partners. But more than this we have interest in the strategic value and integrity of their entrepreneurial centure. One of the biggest complains about VC funding is that they are only interested in the financial multiples they make on a relatively short-term investment. VCs are also often criticized for their lack of “big thinking,” preferring to fund ideas that are similar in nature to toehr successful centures. Anything totally new, that has never been done before, forget it. The majority of VC’s are not that visionary.

This is where I think we have the competitive advantace. Advertising agencies that are exploring IP business models tend to be looking for genuinely new ideas that can help to differentiate clients who choose to license or sponsor them. These agencies have a vested interest in the strategic value, rather than just the financial value, of the idea. And unlike the VCs, it is important for us to create ideas with longevity and the potential for mass social and cultural impact. These are, after all, the kinds of initiatives that hold the greatest value, over time, to our biggest and most valuable clients

I like the idea of agencies vs. VCs. It’s a pretty bold step that makes a lot of sense. But it takes some restructuring on the agency side. In the mid-1990s, no one would have said Cliff Freeman & Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be coloring at the same table.

I can’t find much about JWT’s Section 64 online. But the mention of it confirms my belief that there are two chief forces working to evolve the industry:

  1. Big, firmly established corporations that have the funds to dabble in innovation. (e.g., JWT’s Section 64, Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s purchase of Radar Communications, and Wieden + Kennedy’s new Platform)
  2. Small companies that have no regard for what an advertising agency is supposed do and be. (e.g., Poke)

An agency crawls onto VC turf.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Platform: When successful agencies start to offer more, successfully

I remember about a decade ago reading an interview with Rich Silverstein. He said he hoped Goodby would become more of an idea shop that could turn out screenplays and pilots as easily as print and broadcast advertising. This was pre-Subservient Chicken, pre-Web 2.0, pre-Titanium Lion. In a print/radio/TV world it sounded like they were a bunch of dissatisfied creatives who wanted to write novels and make feature-length movies.

But in the decade since, we’ve seen Transformer movies because Hasbro turned to the Creative Artists Agency, Crispin begin a bike-sharing program, and a presidential campaign win a Grand Prix at Cannes.

Now Creativity reports that this September, Widen + Kennedy will launch Platform, “a think tank and workshop to handle beyond-communications projects for clients.”

Sam Brookes who is leading Platform says evolving beyond advertising “could be anything from problem solving and social responsibility programs to applications for Nokia, or the evolution of Nike Plus. It’s going to be pushing ourselves beyond what we do in the communications sphere further into their business.”

And to get started, Platform is making a point hire non-advertising people like programmers, fashion designers, engineers, anthropologists and artists. Which is really what W+K did when it was just a small start-up.

Obviously, ad agencies need to pay attention to these kinds of developments. But I’m not sure that means agencies need to develop these kinds of appendages. Fallon began a great symbiotic relationship with Duffy Design, but that didn’t mean that the ad agencies of the future needed to be attached to a design firm. Similarly, Crispin’s acquisition of Radar Communications bolstered its design resources a couple years ago, and just planted its flag in Europe with the acquisition of Daddy, but that doesn’t mean that’s what agencies need to be doing.

It seems that when larger, successful agencies end up buying out or marrying smaller specialty shops, they do so to expand their offerings without completely changing the agency’s direction. Fallon and Crispin are still known for (arguably) killer print, radio, and broadcast. They’ve just become successful enough to become umbrella corporations.

So if I’m reading this right, this is what hypersuccessful ad agencies do:
  1. Begin by doing one thing, and doing it well (e.g., great creative in most cases).
  2. Grow in size and billings.
  3. See deficiencies in their offerings (e.g., digital, design, brand consultancy).
  4. Buy (sometimes organize) a smaller entity to make up for those deficiencies.
  5. Keep the new entity separate from the old/traditional one.
But the mistake most agencies make is to merge #4 and #5 into a different step that is “Decide we’re just going to start offering new services to our clients within our current framework.” That’s how decent traditional shops become mediocre traditional shops with mediocre digital/design/brand consultancy capabilities.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Should Agencies Be Entering Award Shows?

The expensive-to-enter, and even-more-expensive-to-attend Cannes Lions festival is currently underway in the south of France. Meanwhile, the economy forces agencies to continue handing out pink slips. So it’s not surprising that there’s been a lot of press decrying the importance of award shows.

Bob Garfield recently stated that Cannes doesn’t matter any more. And Jeff Goodby wrote an article for Ad Age called “We Are Becoming Irrelevant Award-Chasers.”

Goodby argues that the famousness of a campaign should be the focus of agencies, and not how many gold baubles it’s received. He writes, “It’s fast becoming clear that the majority of things we’re rewarding, as an industry, are either small or marginal efforts for legitimate clients, things we made for real clients that the clients seem not to have ever heard of, or out-and-out fakes.” He thinks we should demand that awards judges take into account the sheer “famousness” of a piece of work, not just whether or not it worked.

In April, a one-post blog called A Year Without Award Shows appeared, hoping to rally agencies to the cause of boycotting the expensive shows in light of the struggling economy.

And in Jim Aitchison’s book Cutting Edge Advertising, Indra Sinha says, “If you had a moratorium on awards for ten years, if you said there will be no awards for the next ten years, and said that after those ten years there will be awards for the most new and original things that had emerged, then you might find that within those years all the new ways of expressing ourselves will just come out, because there would no longer be any compulsion to impress juries who are steeped in the old, conventional ways.”

Will agencies of the future stop submitting work to awards shows? I doubt it. They’re too much fun to win, and sometimes fairly fun to attend. But if I were an agency head, I’d have to think very hard about spending $350 per print campaign, unless it had already been written up in industry pubs and celebrated throughout the industry on “free” sites like Creativity or Ads of the World.

Years ago, Fallon decided not to enter the local Minneapolis award show, claiming they wanted to focus on national and international shows. The other shops in Minneapolis were pretty bummed. It was like the Lakers deciding not to participate in the NBA Playoffs. The championship trophy comes with a big, fat asterisk.

The only way award shows could be made irrelevant would be for the Goodbys, Fallons, Crispins and Widens of the industry to issue a joint statement of intent to abstain from further shows.

If I were an agency principal, I'd love to say, "We're not going to enter award shows any more. We're going to spend that money on raises and talent. At the very least, we'll have a better summer party." But then I limit the talent who wants to work for us. And I probably limit the press that's written about us. All of which will have some effect on the business we're able to attract.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Agencies That Make Things Other Than Ads

What happens when ad agencies start to make more than ads? Like pizza and lip balm? The July/August issue of Fast Company features excepts from a panel organized by consulting group PSFK and moderated by Fast Company writer Danielle Sacks. Panel participants included representatives from BBH Labs, Fuseproject, Anomaly, and Trumpet, all of which have created consumer products ranging from healthy pizza to ready-to-eat vegetarian meals to lip balm.

So why would agencies want to develop consumer products? Ben Malbon from BBH Labs says “By creating our own brands, we wanted to make ourselves recession-proof – or at least more recession-proof than other agencies.”

Robbie Vitrano of Trumpet says, “It was sort of inevitable. What an agency does-which is essentially to determine a unique positioning and dvine a go-to-market strategy – is pretty valuable to investors and also to a startup company.”

“I think it makes you better,” says Anamoly’s Carl Johnson. And Malbon adds, “You get exposure to the full gory detail of how clients make and lose money.” BBH likes to have employees spend time at Zag (BBH’s offshoot for commercial products) so they can return to the agency and “be able to have a much smarter conversation with a client’s marketing director, or CFO.

Because most agencies have such a strong understanding of branding and product design, it makes sense that any products they develop could be branded from the ground up. In fact Johnson points out Anomaly hasn’t bought a single ad in sport of any of their products. “Why would we?” he asks. “You can do so much if you know what you’re doing with product placement, sponsorship, digital PR…It makes you much better at grinding out media without paying.”

Building brands, creating new products and making extra money all seem like worthy pursuits for an ad agency. But what about the fox and the hedgehog theory of business? Are these agencies diluting their core creative product by diverting resources into product development? BBH is at least insulating their agency side, having created Zag.

Seems to me it’s not necessarily the future of ad agencies. But definitely a viable option for entrepreneurial agency heads. It’s definitely something agency principals would have to invest in. Product development isn’t really a skill set most writers, art directors or planners come to the job with.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BAD's 20:20:20

Most agencies make money either by fees or commissions. With a fee, the client company and the agency decide on an hourly fee before beginning a project. With a commissioned project, the client and agency decide on a percentage that will be a proportion of the media cost (typically 15%), so at the end of the project the client receives a bill for media with the agency’s fee bundled in.

Big Agency Defectors (BAD) is a new agency in Santa Monica with a new way of billing that is neither fee nor commission. It’s called 20:20:20. Their website states:

Our process and fee structure is very straightforward and allows first-time clients to dip their toes into the water without making a major financial commitment. There are three phases of creative development, each with a bite-sized fee attached. We call it 20:20:20.

Phase 1 – we develop three creative routes for a fee of $20k.

Phase 2 – we blow out any one of these creative routes as TV scripts, print ads, outdoor, digital - or whatever else makes sense for the goals and the agreed budget - for a fee of $20k per route.

Phase 3 – for any ads produced we charge a 20% markup of production.

If you don’t want to move forward from one phase to the next, that’s no problem. At the very least you’ll have some fresh thinking about your brand. But we think you’ll like what you see and want to go further. Our fee structure rewards us for getting the ideas into production. This means doing great work right from the start.

I think about all the time I’ve put toward pitching a piece of business that resulted in nothing but burnt feelings and a drawer full of concepts I might hope to one day repurpose. If the agency had made $20k for a two-week pitch, it at least would have gone to a nicer summer party. 20:20:20 seems a great way for an agency to stop giving away so much for free.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BakerTweet from Poke

Poke is a London-based creative company that "focuses on inventing and making interactive things."

They're not an ad agency in the way Crispin or Wieden or Goodby are ad agencies. But they do enough interactive work that you could argue they're in the leagues of the Barbarian Group or R/GA. Still, on their FAQs, they answer the question, "Are you an online advertising agency?" like this:

In a word: "Yno."

Poke is currently getting a lot of press from their BakerTweet invention - an industrial looking box that sends Tweets announcing croissants and buns are fresh out of the oven.

So Poke is a web agency. But also a design agency. And also an agency that can't really be categorized at all.

Is this what ad agencies need to become? Or does Poke live in its world and let the Goodbys and Fallons of the world live in theirs?

In a word: Yno.

I think when an agency positions itself as an "ad agency" it becomes much more difficult to sell anything but advertising to the client. Even media-savvy clients are likely to say, "Yes, you handle our advertising, but we've got other suppliers to handle special promotions, online work and other marketing."

If you want to sell more than advertising to your clients - even ambient media installations and PR events - you've got to begin by positioning yourself as more than an ad agency. And that's got to be a top-down decision. It probably won't happen just because a writer and an art director had a pretty cool idea that went beyond the print brief.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Irv Blitz model of business

Irv Blitz is director in LA. I’ve worked with him on a couple projects. Really nice guy. Very hard worker.

From what I understand, Irv owns all his own equipment – the lights, the cameras, everything. So while most directors have to rent their equipment from the studios, Irv rents everything from himself. He gets paid as the director, and he gets paid through his rental company when he uses his equipment. I’m not sure, but I imagine the margins on that help him outbid competitors when he needs to.

Shouldn’t agencies be doing this? Why couldn’t an agency have an in-house production company. For every project, the agency would see two streams of income: the clients pay them for a concept, and for production. It could work in broadcast as well as print.

One reason might be the hedgehog and the fox theory of business. It would be tough to be a Wieden-caliber agency and have a Smuggler-caliber production wing. Still, that’s not a reason to try it.

Last thought: An agency/production house hybrid – I think that’s exactly what digital agencies are.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Maurice Levy on the future of print

Ad Age recently reported that Publicis Groupe’s CEO Maruice Levy encouraged a group of magazine publishers to innovate or die. “This is a profound structural revolution,” he said. “Don’t be like the auto industry that waited too long.”

Magazines are losing money that advertisers are diverting to digital media. And according to Mr. Levy, “Advertisers are not expected to go back to print after discarding the media…We live in a world where two words on a search engine’s results pages are considered more effective that a TV spot.”

At the same conference, Unilever’s Simon Clift said, “I spend ten or twenty times more time thinking about digital as about magazines.” He added, “We are coming close to a point where we can’t make ads any longer that consumers won’t actively engage with.”

I’m sure some members of the FIPP World Magazine Congress walked away from this session very bummed. (Although making magazines relevant is not an impossible task. Wired did a fantastic job with their recent J.J. Abrams issue with puzzles and a DaVinci Code-type mystery that simply wouldn’t have worked online.)

But Levy’s warning isn’t just to magazines. It’s to every agency that has a reputation as a print agency (look through a Communication Arts from the late 1990s, and you’ll find an entire roster of them).

I think there are currently two kinds of digital agencies: those that are pure digital shops (e.g., R/GA or The Bavarian Group) and shops that had enough broadcast and print clout to will themselves into the digital area (e.g., Cripsin, Porter + Bogusky and Goodby Silverstein & Partners).

If you’re an upstart agency with just a few years or less under your belt, my guess is you need to be purely digital, or do everything you can to bring digital into every project you tackle. Because simply doing a series of print ads and TV spots won’t be sustainable.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Coke's Pay-For-Performance

Ad Age reports that Coca-Cola is adopting a pay-for-performance model for its agencies that will promise nothing more than recouped costs if their AOR’s don’t perform, “but margins as high as 30% if their work hits top targets.”

The magazine quotes Sarah Armstrong, director of worldwide media and communication operations as saying, “We need [Coke’s agencies] to be profitable and healthy, but they have to earn it through performance.”

Under this new model, the clients determine the “value” of a project in two ways: First they determine how important the project is and set the price tag accordingly; Second, the client sets the goals of what the campaign needs to achieve. The more goals the agency meets, the more it’s paid. So hours worked is no longer a factor. Theoretically, you could put in a day’s worth of work and be paid the entire sum, or several 80-hour weeks and get paid nothing but recouped production costs.

Here’s what I like about the idea: It pushes agencies toward accountability and innovation.

Here’s what I don’t like about the idea: It places the onus on communication and not on the actual product. Bill Bernbach said “A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it’s bad.”

Pay-for-performance works depending upon the agency’s control of the product. We’ve all worked on campaigns that the client has whittled and morphed and rearranged beyond what the agency originally recommended. Should the agency suffer losses because the client mandated several changes to the campaign which ultimately didn’t perform well?

Coke is probably not such a client. They’ve hired agencies like Wieden & Kennedy, Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Mother for a reason. And there’s a lot of room to play with a brand that doesn’t have a list of bullet-pointed product benefits.

Ultimately, I think pay-for-performance is a model that must first be dictated by the client, and then accepted by the agency on their own terms. Otherwise, clients would be just as well off producing their work in-house.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Welcome to Titanium Bound

When I graduated from the VCU Adcenter in 2000, my student portfolio contained five print campaigns, three one-offs, and my resume. And that was good enough to get me a job at an award-winning agency within two months of graduation.

There’s no way that would cut it today. Not for students looking for their first job. And definitely not for agencies.

There are some great agencies doing some great work in the old standbys: print, TV, radio, and outdoor. Flip through the latest annuals and you’ll still see amazing examples of long copy ads and direct mail pieces.

People thought radio would kill newsprint. And that TV would kill radio. And that the web would kill them all. So I don’t believe in the death of the 30-second spot. (At least not anytime soon.) But I do believe in evolution. And I do believe that the agencies that are going to stand out and thrive are the ones who continue to challenge the definition of what an “advertising agency” is.

As a creative with a copywriter background, I have no idea what kind of agency I’m going to be working for in 10 years. And I have no idea what kind of shop I want to build. Because I have no idea what kind of shops are going to be viable.

This blog is meant to be a receptacle of ideas – the kind that are going to shape the industry. It’s not a place for industry gossip and it’s not a place to post the latest campaigns (unless they’re really Titanium Lion material).

It’s a place to collect the ideas that are challenging, scary and exciting. And to try to figure out where exactly this industry’s going and how we can all have a good time getting there.

Hope you enjoy.

If you’d like to contribute a piece or pitch and idea, please contact me at