More energy needed in ad creativity

The Power of London (Cover Story, MW January 8) regarding the overseas influx of agencies has probably hit a few raw nerves.

As I just about qualify as an entrepreneur (setting up my own direct marketing agency just over two years ago) it seems to me that above-the-line agencies have been chasing the wrong ball for too long.

The Utopian ideal for said agencies has, until recently, been how many times they have been able to define ingtegration and therefore summoning up their collective nerve to embrace and understand below-the-line properly.

Their game is, however, won or lost by courageous advertising, which has not really been their forte over the past few years. The golden boys or girls of advertising are a rare breed now since the “accountants” have taken over. Where and when are the stars of tomorrow going to emerge (especially in these boom times)?

When you start out you have to be brave to be noticed. The only true expression of this is through the creative work you do. There is, I’m sure, a linear relationship between how long you’ve been in business and the mould-breaking work you produce.

People still remember (even though some weren’t even born) the work Saatchi & Saatchi did when they opened ther doors all those years ago, eg Pregnant Man.

HHCL started with a flurry, and all credit to it (boy, did it choose the right time to sell) but what is the latest Tango “clowns” ad all about? Maybe it’s about steam and running out of it.

So the likes of Wieden & Kennedy, Fallon McElligott et al, for my money, have timed their run to perfection. Most London agencies have been looking elsewhere for ways of increasing their market share and while AMV.BBDO has probably been one of the agencies (yet again) to get it right, others have spectacularly floundered.

Maybe the fact that this overseas influx of predators poses such a real threat will rekindle the fighting spirit and make agencies realise that they are in a creative business.

Advertising agencies should spend more time creating great advertising rather than devoting their energies to becoming all things to all clients, or looking at their share price in the FT.

Jonathan Clark, Chairman, CMB, London W2

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