Editorial: Industry has little to gain by moving the goalposts

Advertising and football have lots in common. Both are simple games won by scoring goals. It's the over-elaborate strategies that make them unnecessarily complicated.

As adland continues to undergo a painful reinvention of itself, there will always be a temptation to look for needlessly intricate solutions to its woes. Not least because big agencies have found themselves trapped within their old structures and unable to react quickly to a communication landscape that seems to change as fast as the seasons.

Where is the necessary digital talent to be found? How is the extra investment in new forms of communication to be made, given the relentless pressure on remuneration? Of course, these issues are important, and their resolution becomes more difficult without a fundamental change of structure and mindset. Indeed, many agencies must feel like the lost traveller seeking directions in rural Ireland only to be told: "If I were you, I wouldn't be starting from here."

Against that background, it may seem curious how little the top agency bosses writing on page 22 say they would do differently if they were doing a start-up today. What emerges is how easy it is to get bogged down in the minutiae of setting up shop and failing to get the fundamentals right.

As Peter Mead points out, the importance of going into business with partners you trust and respect is as vital as it ever was. So, also, is the need to get on with the job rather than spend too long defining your USP. Chances are that somebody has already thought of it. Moreover, as glue London's Mark Cridge argues, a finely honed mission statement may not stand up well to the demands of a highly competitive business in which bills have to be paid.

In advertising, as in football, you don't win anything unless you've got the basics right. Seek out the best players, ensure they fit comfortably into the team and allow their creativity to shine. And don't spend too much time on laying down complex tactics that confuse everybody. Clients just want match-winning communication. Simple, really.