It’s one minute to midnight for some of the big ad agencies

It’s that special time of year when the advertising industry gets together at the "Four A’s Conference" and beats itself up over what it’s not doing right (see today’s Stuart Elliott column in the NY Times).

This year’s lament is the decline of the 30-second spot and the rise of small, independent shops who are landing mega accounts because of their flexibility and ability to offer solutions to the quicksilver changes in the marketplace.

The rise of the citizen journalist and technology-enabled consumer is causing a real migraine for the aircraft carriers of the ad industry whose business structures are predicated on the 30-second spot and whose management teams live under intense pressure from the holding companies to produce quarterly profits (or, in the case of Interpublic, to mitigate quarterly losses). It’s quite a conundrum for the big guys and is not unlike what Rick Waggoner and his GM cohorts must be dealing with. How do you totally change your outdated business model while simultaneously satisfying the ravenous demands of Wall Street? Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Happily, the sleek, smart independent shops are able to step into the breech and provide clients with new and immediate ways to reach consumers in a 1-to-1 manner. Not saddled with trying to sell yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems, these small firms are eating the big agencies’ lunches.

I’m not sure the same thing is happening in public relations since there is no equivalent to the 30-second television commercial model. That said, I still think the best small firms can out hustle and outthink our larger counterparts. But, then again, I’m prejudiced.

Regardless of what goes down in PR, it’s fascinating to watch the megalithic dinosaurs in advertising vent about the unfairness of it all. Somebody changed their world, and they’re not at all happy about it. In point of fact, they should be happy they still have a chance to turn things around….even if it is one minute to midnight.

4 thoughts on “It’s one minute to midnight for some of the big ad agencies

  1. Goliath may fall, but watch where you stand

    Our good friend and Lumin collaborative partner Steve Cody blogs about large ad agencies’ angst over the decline of the 30-second spot. He says that the emergence of consumer-generated media may not be having the same David/Goliath effect in the…

  2. Jimmy-
    You probably had to read the post 2x b/c you had another famous Jimmy night out last night.
    In terms of reading the Post, wasn’t that your paper of choice in stall number 2? Then again, to give you the benefit, we didn’t have the Philly Inquirer in the office, so maybe the Post was number 2 on your list.
    In terms of my reply, the point was that this is a blog on reputation management. There doesn’t seem to a lack of content when it comes to knocking the advertising industry, or the airlines, or the car compnaies etc. But when it comes to PR, all the content is based on how wonderful PR is for the world and how great it is vs. every other marketing discipline.
    I’m not saying PR isn’t a very valuable tool. I think it has a lot of merit, and when practiced correctly, provides real value. However, coming from a person that really understands the PR industry and knows both its Pros and Cons, it would be interesting to read about some cases where PR wasn’t the end all be all. After all, if you read this blog closely, it would seem that PR is some utopia for companies. We know that isn’t the case, Jimmy.
    Unless of course, this is a case of spin masters just doing their job…

  3. I-man,
    I just read your post twice, and I can’t make heads or tails of it.
    Of all your comments, the only one I have anything to say about (becuase the rest are garbage), is that no one reads the Post in the morning! Crikey, everyone knows that tabloid is for reading on the way home from work…for a laugh, you know?
    Those of us who still make a living in the media care about what the NYTs, WSJ, WashPost, have to say in the AM.
    Oh, was that one of your syringes that was tossed at Bonds on opening day? Let me know.

  4. Another very interesting blog, particularly to me, as I was just talking to a friend who left a top executive post at one of the big boys to open his open boutique. His take was very similar and I found it amazing that 2 major brands came to him day one, b/c of your very points above.
    Howvever, in reading all of your blogs, many times I get the sense that you are “bashing” (for lack of a better word) other industries or companies. You are very quick to point out the “issues” that XYZ ad agency had, or that ABC company has to fix, but I don’t remember a single blog about any such issues existing in the PR world. There was however a post about Wal Mart and how smart they were using PR.
    I very much enjoy reading the blog and the opinions, but I think (and here comes the constructive criticism) that this blog would be a better “read” if there was “fair and balanced” blogging. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on PR campaigns gone bad, or about XYZ company that spent 10 million dollars on a campaign and didn’t have the results to show for it.
    Just think, if you picked up the Post each morning and had 2 types of articles from the Mets beat writer: Either 1) mets win, mets are great, when they win, 2) hockey & football bashing by the writer when the Mets lost.
    Unless of course the PR indusry always finishes 162-0