November 6 - desmocracy Imagine how bad life must be right now within the walls of a traditional advertising agency. Now imagine what it must be like inside the walls of a traditional advertising agency owned by a holding company. It has to be just brutal.

Not only is the basic advertising model broken, but holding companies are reporting record third quarter profit losses as well. I have to believe pay raises and bonuses have been postponed until at least the 23rd century.

Ad Age contains two stories that illustrate the industry's plight. The first reports on the closing of the legendary Cliff Freeman & Partners. This was the firm that launched Little Caesar's 'Pizza, Pizza' campaign and fired a gerbil out of a cannon for (I still remember the animal rights activists going nuts over that one). Freeman failed, says Ad Age, because it didn't keep up with the digital revolution. Very sad.

Even more alarming is the news that PepsiCo will allow consumers to select their new agency. Ponder the lunacy of that for a moment.

Not content to let consumers vote on their favorite campaigns, Pepsi is now allowing the inmates to literally run the asylum. Ad Age reports that, 'In a contest beginning this month, Pepsi's Mtn Dew will hand off marketing duties for a $100 million-plus business to several potentially unknown players selected by consumers.' It's part of something the brand calls 'Dewmocracy.' Dewmockery is more like it.

How'd you like to be part of the creative team at PepsiCo's incumbent agency, BBDO?

'Sorry guys, but the results are in and consumers have chosen that talking soda can commercial the beautician from Butte created. We'll have to take the $100 million we'd allocated to you and give it to Betty & Partners. That's what she's calling her hybrid beauty salon/creative shop, btw.'

Traditional advertising agencies and the creative directors who run them like to think they control the brand messaging. Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy, Leo Burnett and their staffs once did. Now, though, the battered bastards of Madison Avenue have to compete with every Tom, Dick and Harry (or Betty) who think they can create advertising. Talk about living a nightmare.

I am sooooo happy to be in public relations.

4 thoughts on “Dewmockery

  1. Thanks Brian. I was in a Second World War frame of mind when I composed the blog. Hence, the riff on the legendary ‘battered bastards of Bastogne.

  2. An interesting essay, Steve.
    Betty the beautician from Butte? The battered bastards of Madison Avenue? It must be alliteration day at Peppercom.

  3. Have you seen the new Geico commercial where the bone-headed suit is showing his latest “great ideas” for new ad slogans to a horrified Gecko? It’s also been my experience that every Tom, Dick & Betty out there thinks they are a PR expert, too. I’m sure PepsiCo will let consumers choose their next PR firm. Betcha Betty the beautician is vetting the RFPs as I write this.