Apr 06

There’s nothing thick about this brick

It's rare to find an advertising agency that does a superior job of marketing itself. The Martin Single-brick Agency is one notable exception. It's rarer still to find an ad agency that believes advertising exists to sell a client's wares. Most creative directors (and, trust me, I've known my share) think they're the second coming of Billy Wilder, John Ford or Alfred Hitchcock, and look to print and broadcast as a means to express their inner Spielberg and, critically, win awards. Client sales be damned.

That's what makes the new OgilvyOne 'World's Greatest Salesperson' campaign a home run in this agency marketer cum blogger's book. Its genius lies in its simultaneous simplicity, call to action and return to the agency's roots (no mean feat accomplishing those three goals in one fell swoop).

The campaign is actually a 15-country contest to find and reward the world's greatest salesperson. The challenge: use a specially branded channel on YouTube, along with Twitter, Facebook and other social media to sell a red brick. Yes, a red brick. The most creative campaign creator wins a three-month internship at OgilvyOne.

Apart from simply being clever as hell, the campaign returns the agency to its founder's core concepts: Ad legend David Ogilvy always believed advertising existed to sell products, not win awards.

I'm a huge proponent of agency marketing and chafed when my long-gone (but clearly not forgotten) Brouillard CEO told me it was a total waste of time. “Clients want us focused on doing their work. That's how we charge premium rates,” he'd sniff. He was all about charging premium rates and always positioned the now defunct firm as the 'Tiffany's of advertising.' A noble aspiration to be sure but, ultimately a doomed one since no one knew who the hell we were because we never marketed ourselves.

I'm of the opinion that clients and prospects hire agencies who understand how to differentiate and market their own services. In fact, I've often heard Peppercom clients say that our agency first attracted their attention through our thought leadership on a relevant subject. 'Why hire an agency to market for me if they can't do it for themselves?' clients would ask rhetorically. And yet most agencies can't, or won't.

We're one of the few PR firms that believes in aggressive agency marketing. It's stood us in good stead and we'll continue to invest the time and resources to drive it forward.

I'd like to think it takes a good marketer to recognize a great one. So, here's a tip of the cap to the OgilvyOne greatest salesperson contest. I love it. And, I have to believe the late David Ogilvy shares my feeling and is smiling down from that great sales convention in the sky. Always be closing, David. ABC.

Nov 06


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 Outpost.com (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.