George Parker of Adscam: will there ever be a viable “Agency of the Future?”

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone exclaim that they have just created the “Agency of the Future” I would be a very rich man. Unfortunately, many of these promised wonders have ended up being Agencies of the Past, or merely facsimiles of bog standard Agencies of the Present. Remember the merger of Draft and FCB? The promises, the promises… Just enjoy this video that spells out how you start off with a nightmare and turn it into phantasmagoria. You honestly cannot make this shit up.

Others have claimed to invent a totally new model for the production of advertising. At its inception, Anomaly said they would not work for commissions or fees, but would sell intellectual properties. They also said that if they grew to one hundred employees, they would spin off Anomaly Two, then Anomaly Three etc. All of that fell by the wayside; they now produce pretty bad adverting (See Johnnie Walker) for pretty bad clients.

Remember crowd sourcing creative? Victors and Spoils created that model, encouraging desperate freelancers to work on spec for a one in a million chance of being paid a few dollars. Their first major client, Harley-Davidson, woke up one day and realized that if their agency was crowd sourcing all the creative, why not do it themselves and cut out the middle man? Sometimes clients are not as stupid as you think they are.

Wunderkind Alex “I am a genius” Bogusky gave up making $50 trucker hats and jumped into the fray exactly a year ago by forming “Fearless Unlimited,” an agency aimed at Millennials, yawn. One that would herald… ”The birth of a new agency platform.” Unfortunately, the birth seems to have been somewhat premature, as nothing has been heard from the nursery since.

And then we come to “Teams.” WPP has been plowing this furrow for quite a while and a couple seem to be successful, particularly with auto accounts, but then again anyone who has worked on a car account recognizes that you are dealing with Neanderthals. Funny that the Poisoned Dwarf’s first team was “Enfatico.” An agency specifically created to service the Dell account. After opening ten offices around the world, employing thousands and burning major bucks in its two years of existence, the “Agency of the Future” was shuttered and dumped inside a broom closet at Y&R. They would have been better sticking to supermarket trolleys.

And finally there are the co-ops which promote themselves as team builders, Ideasicle in the US and GildedSplinters in the UK are good examples. Of course, the team is only as good as its constituent members, which in essence means you are paying for a mélange of freelancers, which if you have the nonce, you could probably source yourself. I am impressed however by a brand new outfit, Darkresource.com, which in the current climate of agencies being snapped up by consulting companies (Accenture buying a dozen in the last year alone,) seems to be ahead of the curve by addressing the ever troubling problem of who retains the right to the intellectual properties created by the co-operative.

In the case of Darkresource, they retain ownership of any ideas the client does not buy. The client only pays for accepted work. The teams created by Darkresource are global and draw on a multiplicity of skills and experiences. The best part… No pitches… No lengthy processes. No holding company sucking out one third of the co-op’s income. Unlike most Big Dumb Agencies, they don’t have to kiss arse to survive. It seems to me to be a different approach in today’s increasingly fractured marketing environment. I shall be watching these guys over the coming months.

As for the next “Agency of the Future,” what the fuck do I know? Even Sir Martin Sorrell doesn’t know, and he pulls down $90 million for giving speeches in exotic locations.

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About George Parker

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George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.

5 comments

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    Every now and again a journalist will establish the facts before writing drivel.
    This was not one of those occasions.
    Open to answer any questions.
    Carl

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    Be interesting to hear the rationale behind the Johnnie Walker campaign Carl.

    PS. Not sure what George thinks about being a journalist…

  3. Avatar

    I’ve been called many things through my long and somewhat checkered career… But a “Journalist!” How dare you sir. I prefer “AdHo!” And I shall keep on walking.
    Cheers/George

  4. Avatar

    Hey George,

    What about Pure Growth Partners started by Chris Clarke of Nitro? http://www.puregrowth.com/

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    Tony…
    I’ll have a look at it over the weekend while I’m getting pissed. I think better that way. In fact, I only think that way.
    Cheers/George