A week or so ago, because the current state of the ad biz is so boring and predictable, I decided to stir things up a bit by writing a post on AdScam titled, “The Best Agency In The World.”
And the shop that I bestowed this prodigious award on was… Drum-roll… Goodby (right), Silverstein + Partners, which was celebrating its thirty first birthday that very day, April 15th. So, why exactly did I believe the guys at Bagdad on the Bay deserved this honor? Because in my humble opinion, no other agency has a track record of consistently producing such great work over such an extended period of time.
Boy: Did that create a shitstorm.
Defenders of late great shops such as DDB, Ally, Tinker, Wells in the US, and Colletts, AMV, Saatchi, BBH, Lowe and many others in the UK, came out of the woodwork in their fury. Yes, I would be the first to admit that in their time, these were agencies with periods of greatness, only to eventually either flame out or be swallowed up by one or other of the Big Dumb Fucking Holding Companies (BDHC). And changing your name back to the founders, as J. Walter Thompson recently did, doesn’t stop you from still being a Big Dumb Agency (BDA).
But, if you really want to start an argument, I would say that the agency which had the most influence on the British ad scene would have been Kingsley Manton & Palmer, way back before most of you were born. They were the ballsy geezers who told the IPA to take their “Do not pitch accounts that are currently at other IPA agencies” rule and shove it. They also said they would work on fees, rather than commission. KMP went after anything that breathed, picked up a lot of tasty accounts and did some very nice work as a result.
I also got hammered by several douchenozzles posing the question… “What the fuck about Wieden + Kennedy or Chiat? ‘Cos both were actually founded before GS+P, so therefore must be winners in the longevity stakes. Yes, and in addition, both have done a ton of memorable work, although both have also done their share of not quite, “Ultimo Primo” campaigns.
W+K in particular should endure perpetual Brazilian bikini waxes for their Velveeta Lusty Smithy. Plus, they sucked on the Nike tit for the first dozen years of their existence (and still do). If I was going to give an award to W+K, it would be to the London office, not only for its wonderful work, but also ‘cos Neil Christie gets me pissed whenever I’m in London.
As for Chiat, who I used to freelance for on a regular basis, yes, they used to be a great agency, but once they disappeared down the slime-dripping maw of TBWA, they lived to prove Jay’s prophesy of many years ago… “I can’t wait to see how big we get before we turn to shit.” Plus, as I have said in one of my two current AdScam predictions, Chiat/TBWA will lose Apple before the year is out and Lee Clow will retire to his “iTennis” cloud next to GodJobs’ “iFuckEveryone” cloud.
Incidentally, my other prediction for the year is that the Poisoned Dwarf will buy Interpublic. And always remember, AdScam is never wrong.
OK, back to GS+P. Why the best agency in the world? Quite simply because for thirty one years they have done an incredible variety of high quality work for an incredible variety of clients. In my geriatric judgment, this differentiates them from everyone else. Shit, I even forgive them the Chevy “Commonwealth” fiasco.
Because, when you get handed the biggest auto account in the fucking world on a plate, the world then becomes your oyster and you go through hoops opening a Detroit office and staffing it with 300 people. But, when the bottom falls out due to no fault of yours, but because of the internal, Machiavellian bullshit within GM, instead of locking the doors and throwing away the keys, GS+P made sure that McCann took over the Detroit office and retained all the staff who wished to continue working there.
There is no other agency on the face of this planet that would have done this; instead, they would have gone Titanic, killing the women and children in their mad panic for the lifeboats.
Yes, Jeff and Rich are mates, and all that money they send to my Zurich bank account has no influence on me whatsoever. But do me a favor and go to the GS+P website. Read all of it, particularly the history dating back to the nineteenth century. Then check out the 30 for 30 section, which features 30 of their most memorable TV spots from the last 30 years.
Even in their first couple of years in business, they produced wonderful stuff for the Mill Valley Film Festival featuring Jeff and Rich in cameo roles. They persuaded William Randolph Hearst III to appear in a hilarious series of spots for the San Francisco Examiner. My favorite being the one with a drunken, drugged, and totally fucked up Hunter S. Thompson delivering the immortal line… “Together, we shall drive the rats from the Tundra.” One, I confess, I have shamelessly homaged over the years.
Moving forward, do not miss the Comcast “Rabbit.” I wet myself every time I watch it. And for “Seven Degrees of Separation” fans, Logitech’s “Ivan Cobenk” is a gem. After thirty one years they are still doing wonderful work for Adobe, Foster Farms, Specialized, Comcast and many others.
I defy you to find a better body of work anywhere. If you can, I will eat my Fourth Reich SS Obersturmbannfuhrer helmet. Washed down by copious amounts of Fourth Reich Potato Vodka.
I shall be back to update this in thirty one years. ‘Cos never forget, I have that picture in the attic.