When the last planner leaves the building, please turn off the light.

Our industry is small, relatively speaking. There are three, maybe four parts to it. Agencies, Advertisers, Media Owners (in all their shapes and forms) and technology companies.  I have no idea how many people in reality, hundreds of thousands globally let’s say.

Have you seen the make up of those agencies? Generally speaking if you look at the average age of a media agency or creative agency it is pretty low. Let’s say it’s in the early 30s. If you take a look at most of the departments like search or programmatic then that age dips even further. If you don’t work with agencies then let me describe it. Rooms full of young people tapping away, chatting, calling, looking at screens, learning and hopefully enjoying themselves, some pissed off, but normal life.

If you ask them what they do, they will say they work on x client or y client. They will tell you how they are buying something, planning something and trying to deliver something for clients. I can tell you what they are not doing.  They are not planning a way to be ‘stealing, lying or cheating their clients’ they will tell you that they are working for their clients and trying to do a good job.

At the same time I see a lot of attention being aimed at how we bring people into the industry, all facets of it, but certainly at the agencies. We all pour efforts into bringing them on and training them so they are good and better than the competition. We want to bring the smartest and brightest to our industry.

Trouble is that is going to get very hard. It’s going to get very hard for a few reasons. The first is the blanket accusations aimed at agencies. To be clear, if there is anyone at fault, I guarantee you it is not the kids working their socks off, it’s not the 99%+ percent of people in agencies. By the way these are the very same you want us to bring into the business, the ones you want to pull away from other industries and wow the clients. But no one is thinking about that. Everyone is rushing to shout as loud as possible about how corrupt agencies are, how they are not trustworthy. When you say ‘agencies’ who are you aiming that at?

Why would anyone want to work in agencies? Between trade bodies, marketing experts, auditing companies, intermediaries, journalists all bashing the agency land, why would anyone want to work for an agency? Mark Ritson said ‘what the fuck is happening in our industry’ well I will tell you. It is being killed by broad brush stroke, highly audible voices (like Mark) that is going to mean that no one will work for agencies and then I wonder where that leaves us. Death by a thousand cuts.

What I can’t work out is that what they want?

I am genuinely interested in whether some of these interested parties really do want agencies to go away, because at the moment they are certainly sounding like it. There is no balance, there is no moderation, there is no qualification, just straight outright, broad brush strokes of criticism. I am here to defend the armies of keen, young, committed people working late, working weekends for their clients. I would like to hear some balance from some of these parties, I would like to hear them support great work and great people, just a little to balance the ones who are razing the whole place to the ground.

When the last planner leaves the building, please turn the light off.


7 thoughts on “When the last planner leaves the building, please turn off the light.

  1. Enron, WorldCom, etc all went down due to corporate fraud and the majority of their employees did good honest hard work. The latter can’t be an argument against the former. Entire companies have gone down due to a single act of fraud from a single individual.

    If you want to defend agencies, make the case that no stealing ever happens.

      • Why does it matter? Focus on the content, not the individual. Their points are valid.

        Your post basically described any company in any industry. There are hardworking innocent people everywhere (although hard work doesn’t mean good work and that’s something agencies struggle with).

        Nobody is saying entire companies are corrupt, but there are several instances of agencies engaging in bad behavior and this is most likely tied to the leadership. Even if decisions were made without any ill intent or malice, they still need to be answered for and corrected. While I’m just as frustrated with the ANA for failing to actually release any details, it doesn’t help to take this stance that nothing bad happens because there happen to be some good folks in the office.

        Do you really want to help the agency industry and make it attractive for newcomers? Then let’s stop complaining that there are negative reports and work together to correct the real issues. We all want the same thing.

  2. there is a huge difference between full transparency and stealing “anon”, keep it together.

    Unfortunately though, a lot of the smoke and mirrors is a result of agencies under cutting each other for years in what has been a race to the bottom.

    If agencies got paid what their worth and the agency down the road didnt undercut them at every turn, they wouldnt need to take liberties in other areas to keep the lights on.

    Great stuff Marco, someone has stick up for agencies who are consistently the punching bags in the press.

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