People, marketers and agencies all over the globe appear more disillusioned than ever, uncertain as to what the future holds for them and their craft.
It’s apparent that since the late 1980’s somebody ripped all the fun out of advertising. Hence the ‘rose tinted glasses’ everyone dons when watching HBO’s Madmen to reminisce of the ‘good old days’, the days when agencies were allowed to drink, party, seduce, and elope between 9 and 5, while also quickly fitting in an award winning, multi-million dollar idea before cocktails at 6.
How is it that back then they had it so friggin’ great? Was it that the marketers knew nothing, were mentally impaired, and the dorsal finned agencies were able to get away with murder?
Like many do with social media today larger companies were chucking money at the opportunity to advertise because legends like Heineken and giants like Marlboro were just doing it and getting it right…somehow. Which mean money.
Were agencies better than they are today? Were products simpler? Was there more trust?
What’s more likely is that there was excitement, opportunity, and energy due to the fact that for the first time companies were about to tell their story, a real story. They were marketing virgins. While there was an element of naivety intertwined, agencies were also in the great position of having teams of writers, able to see what these companies (manufacturers mostly) were making, and how to make it sound sexy.
It was for the first time that VW stood up and told people what they had, why they were different, and why you needed a Beetle. Today VW is telling the same story, but you gotta work seriously hard for people to hear it.
The agencies were also fresh. Wells Rich Green was run by Wells, Rich and Green. Doyle Dane and Bernbach, Ogilvy Benson and Mather and Boase Massimi Pollatt were all independent and run by the founders.
So we had new, fresh, independent, and hungry advertising people working with new virgin marketers. Energy and optimism from both sides.
So who’s having the fun today? Has the fun gone? Are there no sexy stories anymore? Are we suffering a marketing depression? Is no one hungry?
Nah, it just that the best ideas are coming from a variety of places. Everyone’s searching for a way to hook the big fish, but at the same time haven’t moved further upstream. There is some hope. Madison Avenue moved this week to SXSW to mingle with the startup’s, the guys that inspire, the virgin marketers with the sexy stories. However, by the end of next week they’ll be back chasing the FMCG money ‘cause they’ve got man hours to sell and startups are skint.
The incubators, entrepreneurs, and startups are the guys having the fun. The 3rd, 4th and 5th generation marketers are not simply because at this stage of their life it’s all about spin and powerpoint. Likewise on the agency side. It’s the small, nimble, founder-led agencies that are winning, those that are able to cut a living from several cloths, not relying on Heinz to pay their bills. They’re able to play, invest and grow in line with their marketing virgin clients.