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 How do you totally change your outdated business model while simultaneously satisfying the ravenous demands of Wall Street?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.