At 3.20am on Saturday 20 September my wife gave birth to an 8lb
baby boy. He came into the world screaming for attention and has been
responsible for the creation of an inordinate amount of poo. Yep, he’s
an adman’s son all right.
Of course, it has changed everything. But, at 34, I’m ready for
Late nights spent in the dank taverns of Soho have lost their attraction
and my ability to consume my own body weight in beer and then hold
forth, with authority, on every subject in Christendom, is now only a
dwindling memory in the ale-addled minds of a group of ageing
But I’m fortunate in the fact that this change is of my own
For the birth of anything new brings with it a certain amount of
disbelief. And change, when forced upon people, can create a lot of
It has been thus with the advent of integration.
’An agency only succeeds if it helps ultimately to create new sales for
a client, and does so efficiently and economically. Images and brand
awareness are meaningless if they fail to achieve greater turnover; the
test is the cash till. It’s time for a new kind of advertising.’
I didn’t write that. It appeared in an ad in the Sunday Times on 13
September 1970 announcing the arrival of Saatchi & Saatchi. But, in
spite of the fact it heralded the birth of advertising’s golden era, it
could also be a blueprint for integration.
Integration, as a movement, has been spawned by a belief (long known to
the client community) that advertising isn’t the be-all and end-all of
At the moment, however, it exists without definition. So, let’s start
with that. Today, there are three types of agency. First, there are
advertising agencies. They produce advertising. That is all they sell
Regardless of their client’s marketing problem, they will always produce
an advertising solution. So, there is a case to say that they put
selling their own product above selling their client’s product. This
fact has sufficiently eroded client confidence to open the door for
another kind of agency - the integrated agency.
Integrated agencies still sell advertising, they just happen to have a
new device that helps them sell it. They offer direct marketing and
sales promotion. But they are still run by admen, everything still
centres around advertising and integration is seen merely as a way of
making collateral material look like the ads. The only real client
benefit of this form of integration is saving money on phone calls. It
is superficial and will, ultimately, only confirm clients’ suspicions
that agencies lack any real understanding of their sales needs.
The final kind of agency is also described as integrated but let us, for
the sake of clarity, call it a marketing communications company. Its
raison d’etre is to sell its clients’ products rather than its own and
its doctrine is practised - but not preached - in regional and
specialist (financial or pharmaceutical) agencies all over the UK. It is
born of a hard-nosed necessity to create sales rather than advertising
that is ’liked’. And its particular kind of integration could be defined
as the ability to use any medium or combination of media to sell the
client’s product - which means that, depending on the marketing problem,
advertising might not be used at all.
The Saatchis ad of 1970 was prophetic in another way. It was probably
the first and last time an agency really put its money where its mouth
was and tried to use advertising to sell itself.
Advertising is a very expensive and one-dimensional way to sell a
If you don’t believe me, check out how much agencies spend on
advertising themselves these days. There are plenty of new-business
mailers, brochures, telephone calls and frantic schmoozing to get into
the pages of Campaign, but ads are at the bottom of the list - except
when they’re talking to clients - then direct mail, point of sale,
telemarketing and PR suddenly go out the window. If agencies applied the
same ingenuity to the way they market their clients’ products, it would
be an entirely different industry.
The Saatchi ad also talked of the ’dying system’ of agency remuneration.
The illness turned out to be debilitating rather than terminal but,
again, the observation was right on the money.
Until agencies are rewarded for impartial marketing advice, they are
going to keep on flogging advertising when it isn’t appropriate and
agency advice will continue to be a devalued currency.
We have to be able to tell our clients that their product is rubbish,
their sales operation needs revamping and that advertising will be a
complete waste of money - and profit from it - or we will become no more
than frivolous dandies at the courts of the marketing kings.
This does not mean we have to start buying management consultancies but
we do have to elevate account men from the role of well-meaning toady to
that of a valued adviser. Again, the 27-year-old ad talked of
eliminating ’the middle-man between the advertiser and the people who
are paid to create the ads’. The principle is correct, but if you
consider that clients should be coming to us for marketing solutions,
then there is no middle man. Everyone is creative, or at least they
Change comes to us all. Just as I knew that one day I’d be swapping
midnight bar-hopping for late-night nappy-changing, the ad industry
needs to acknowledge that it is time to grow up and do what it has
For adland’s pampered princelings, the world I describe may sound very
dull. But it shouldn’t. It offers the potential to create genuinely new
ways to communicate - to invent from scratch rather than copy from
A healthy new-born babe has been born, it’s better looking than its dad
and it’s getting smarter every day. It’s time to have some fun.