The greatest modern art form is surely the televised put-down.
David Letterman crushing a heckler with, ’What exactly is on your
mind ... if you’ll excuse the exaggeration?’ Or Mrs Merton asking Debbie
McGee: ’What was it that first attracted you to the short, balding,
middle-aged millionaire, Paul Daniels?’
Last week, Steve Hooper and Martin Galton, a pair of senior Bartle Bogle
Hegarty creatives, gallantly agreed to fly the flag for the printed
put-down. In fact, they win a Campaign silver middle finger award for
their comments in last week’s issue.
On opening their own shop, a cross between an advertising agency and a
production company, Galton said: ’There seems to be a trend towards
clients wanting to have direct access to the creatives who actually do
the job ... As a creative, it has become very hard to have any fun in a
large agency. We think that by not having any account people we can be
sharp and lean but also have a bit of fun.’
Ignoring the gossip - which is that Hooper and Galton are out of BBH
over Bruce Crouch’s recent elevation to executive creative director -
there seems to be more than an implied swipe at BBH in the no-suits
approach. It’s as if they’re perpetuating the image of account people as
empty suits, more interested in kissing clients’ arses than doing good
advertising. My quarrel with this is that, if ever clients felt their
needs were being clearly communicated to creative people, then surely
it’s at BBH.
However, it’s also true that it is hard to think of a business that has
responded with less imagination than advertising to the challenges of
today’s changing economy. Maybe a handful of reckless visionaries dared
to tweak the 15 per cent commission system a couple of decades ago, but
the essential organisational and financial concept of an ad agency is
the same as it was a century ago.
All available brainpower still goes into ads and commercials while the
structures of the agency organisation itself lie bereft of even the
lightest touch of imaginative thinking.
So is the no-suits approach one that could genuinely leverage the
quality of the creative product? In order for the approach to hold
water, it is important that the creatives are all-rounders who can wear
an account handler’s/planner’s hat at all times. Do these creatives
But to say you can do away with account handling - either the department
or the personal skill - strikes me as immature and unworkable. In fact,
I could far sooner see ad agencies shedding fully fledged creative
departments, like the Hollywood studios did, and recruiting freelance
talent. How’s that for a put-down?
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