Advertising and media agencies don’t advertise their services very
often, but Channel 4’s broadcast of the top 100 ads last Bank Holiday
weekend inspired both Zenith Media and OMD UK to get their thinking caps
on and come up with a TV commercial.
And what a good idea it was. You could predict that a disproportionately
high number of people who work in advertising and media, as well as some
marketers, were likely to tune in. The clever placement of the ads for
companies whose function it is to place ads cleverly was, well,
Both ads used similar straplines. Zenith’s was ’we put ads in all the
right places’, while OMD used ’the right message to the right
Claire Bugler, Zenith’s planning director, says the sloppy style of the
Zenith ad was deliberate. ’It was a bit of fun. We wanted to make the
point that we don’t make ads but we know where to put them,’ she
Mark Dickenson, OMD’s marketing director, said he wanted the ad to run
because he knew the audience would include existing and potential
clients and because the timing was perfect as the agency is in the
process of changing its name from BMP OMD.
But such ads are rare. Although most agencies take their marketing
seriously, it’s only for special occasions that they use above-the-line
Paul Simons, now the chairman of the Ogilvy Group, remembers the loaves
and fishes ad for Gold Greenlees Trott which ran in the marketing press
in 1983. He says he saw the ad and decided to join the agency.
Other agencies take out trade press ads for special occasions. Last week
Leagas Delaney had double-page ads in Campaign, Marketing and Marketing
Week, telling readers it had won The Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
Simons thinks the reason why so few agencies create ads for themselves
is that it’s hard to make great ads for a service industry and anything
short of a great ad from a company whose job is to make great ads is not
a good idea.
’Any service business is difficult to advertise because the things we
want to say are complicated. Very few agencies have a single-minded
It doesn’t do justice to what we do as a business. There’s a danger of
being too shallow,’ Simons says.
Even so, he still believes that it is important for agencies to market
themselves. ’We have to get out of our own village. Many people are in
danger of believing their own propaganda. It’s always a salutory lesson
when you meet clients for the first time and you discover how little
they know about the industry,’ he says.
Agencies put a lot of effort into their profile in the press. Simons
says: ’The most valuable thing in terms of awareness and influence is
strong PR. It implies a third-party endorsement.’
The ad industry is so well served by the trade press and, more recently,
has moved much higher up the agenda in the national press that PR is a
valuable tool. It’s also a lot cheaper than advertising, but don’t tell
any clients that.