Going e-WOL is the new black. Although I’m sure TSMS’s chief
executive, Jerry Hill, threw a party for Martina King when she told him
she was leaving after three months for Yahoo!, and Rupert Miles’s Beeb
bosses waved him off to their direct commercial rivals with a Psion 5
and a Wild at Heart bouquet, objective observers will acknowledge their
respective moves as understandable, perhaps even inevitable.
King’s is particularly interesting in that she is one of the first
senior media owner figures to move to ’established’ new media, rather
than a spin-off or start-up. Many Campaign readers have (privately)
revealed themselves to be contemplating just such a move in response to
my ’now’s a great time to launch a start-up’ observation (Campaign, 3
Inevitably callers soon disabused me of the notion they might be
agreeing with me.
’Dinosaur’ was the clear inference. Or, Levi’s-wearer. Mainstream
advertising’s dead. Who needs two men with marker pens and a brass
plate, when you can have an i-Mac and a web address?
E-ventures are where it’s at, grandpa. The ad agency’s history.
Perhaps. No, not perhaps. Bollocks! Of course there’s gold in them there
portals, and scary amounts of money to be made from e-ventures. In the
US, the half-dozen richest people under 40 are techies, mostly
But there are hundreds of e-business plans in front of salivating
venture capitalists this very week. Some will make e-booty, some will
fall by the wayside, others won’t get off the ground. I wish anyone
brave enough to try every success. How could you not?
But does no-one remember their Brodie’s Notes (GCSE marketing): ’When
everyone else is zagging, it’s a good time to zig.’ However lucrative it
is, not everyone is cut out for e-life. Most people over 30 for a start.
I’m not saying they shouldn’t try or can’t do it, only that they
shouldn’t feel pressurised into doing so. Ironically, the rise of the
dot-com as a lucrative mainstream advertising sector should give them
Dot-coms now constitute the fastest-growing above-the-line sector in the
US market and, as Gordon MacMillan’s feature last week showed, the
sector is now becoming meaningful over here too. Some agency
new-business directors (particularly at our more venerable institutions)
are being swamped by nascent dot-coms, desperate for advertising.
Sometimes it’s to give their business plans more credibility, and almost
always to get on-air within two weeks. If they don’t, someone else with
the same dot-com idea will beat them to it. For some agencies, it’s a
nice problem to have. The others shouldn’t worry, conflict will mean
their share of the crumbs. It strikes me that many of them would be the
perfect client for an agency start-up. If only the ad agency wasn’t