Feb 03

Traditional Advertising Professionals Have a Right to Be “Mad Men”

Think you’ve got it tough? Try working for a traditional advertising agency. Sure, Detroit is toxic and the publishing sector has been a graveyard for some time, but how’d you like to ply your trade in an industry that’s just now waking up to find itself totally outdated and in need of a complete  and immediate overhaul? Now, imagine making that overhaul in the midst of the worst economy in decades.
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The traditional advertising model (i.e. the 30-second TV spot, the full-page print advertisement and the 15 percent agency commission) is dead. Digital killed it. And, cost-conscious marketers are yanking millions, if not billions, of dollars out of traditional advertising and reallocating the cash to digital, word-of-mouth and public relations.

So, it came as no surprise to see an Adweek article entitled, "Ad Talent May Head Elsewhere.” Ah, but where?

I heard one industry analyst predict each of the Big Three advertising holding companies will lay off 30,000 employees this year. And, I attended a meeting just last week in which the client’s entire ad agency account team had been wiped out as part of a 5,000 person downsizing. Ouch!

These are jobs that will never be replaced. To make matters worse, though, these downsized souls possess talents that no other sector really wants or needs. Yes, a few may land at technology companies in search of creative talent and some may opt for professional services firms looking for the same sort of person. But, those gigs are few and far between. What will the hundreds of thousands of account managers, copywriters and media planners do? The Adweek article suggests architectural firms as a possible employment source. But, how much money is being spent on new construction these days? Or, advertising types could look overseas to Asia and Latin America, except those economies are tanking now as well.

So, what does a traditional advertising agency professional do? Beats me. But, it sure does give a whole new meaning to Mad Men.

Jan 07

Is It the End of the Beginning?

Maybe it's just my "glass is always half full" approach to life, but I do believe I'm beginning to see a small smattering of positive economic headlines coming from the business press.

Just this weekend, for example, The New York Times heralded a bullish economic forecast from a group of, what else, economic forecasters. Naturally, the forecasters' views that President-elect Obama's stimulus package will re-charge our country's economic engine were offset by other economists who felt otherwise but, hey, the headline was upbeat.

I also spotted a very upbeat ditty about Hollywood's very solid holiday ticket sales ("Hollywood's Superheroes Save the Day"). Sure, the story was buried beneath a larger one that once again focused on the horror show that is Detroit but, hey, it was another positive headline!

I'll admit I'm hard-pressed to find a third example but maybe, just maybe, the media13107594.tracksfade
has finally had its fill of non-stop negativity. Maybe, just maybe, some editors will see an emerging trend and actually start publishing positive words and phrases in their headlines and leads. And, maybe, just maybe, we are starting to see a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.

Taking a page out of Winston Churchill's speech book, we might not be near the beginning of the end of our economic woes but maybe, just maybe, we're at the end of the beginning.