DIARY: I’m only a punter but...

The arrogance of advertising agency people never ceases to amaze me. Years of working for them (not in them) convinces me that this apparently unfair generalisation has few exceptions. The public displays of self-congratulation are painful enough, claiming sole ‘ownership’ of a marketing success when in reality it’s usually the outcome of far more detailed, less ego-ridden work elsewhere. But what really grates is the way that agencies conduct themselves commercially and professionally.

The arrogance of advertising agency people never ceases to amaze me.

Years of working for them (not in them) convinces me that this

apparently unfair generalisation has few exceptions. The public displays

of self-congratulation are painful enough, claiming sole ‘ownership’ of

a marketing success when in reality it’s usually the outcome of far more

detailed, less ego-ridden work elsewhere. But what really grates is the

way that agencies conduct themselves commercially and professionally.



Let me come clean - I’m a market researcher. I’ve grown deeply cynical

about the way agencies use and talk about research.



First, the pitch. This comprises fairly flaky ‘data’, too frequently

hewn from despatching the junior planner to conduct a group discussion

or two just beforehand. The (so-called) creative strategy is usually

written before this research, so the objective is to post-rationalise

the strategy, rather than to help develop it. Then there is the

quantitative phase, although agencies tend to avoid putting their heads

in this particular noose because they can’t manipulate what they might

get out of it or make much money on it. Sums seem to be overly

challenging, too.



The third example of dodgy practice is the way that ad agencies treat

research agencies. Usually, they want something unbelievably quickly,

poorly thought out and very cheap. The ‘deal’ is then made through

promises of more profitable work in the future. In fact, this cycle just

starts again, because the promiscuity of agencies is the stuff of

legend. Then, if you’re lucky, after three months and ten calls to the

accounts department, you might be paid.



Ad agencies’ inability to move into broader marketing areas like

management consultancy is well documented. Yet, for some reason,

research is an area where they think they have expertise. Er, no.



It’s no surprise then to constantly read bleats about research

‘tampering’ with the creative gem of the poor love who put it together.

Or the same precious souls talking about research as being boring. Like

advertising, it sometimes is. But the difference is that I can blow you

away in front of the client. Since I like doing good research, I talk to

clients. They tend to know what they are talking about, and see further

than their noses on long-term strategy.



Why, I can even count to 400.



Send your 400-word rants to Stefano Hatfield at 174 Hammersmith Road,

London W6 7JP



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