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Advertising's 'Ugly Truth'
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Advertising is one of the few things we know that is both so loved and so hated by the people who use it for a living. We are not exempt from that population; advertising is so fascinating and fun to do, yet there are issues and activities within AdLand that make our skin crawl.

But unlike David Nobay, creative chairman of agency Droga5 in Sydney, we haven't expressed our gripe at an international creative awards ceremony.

Herman Manson of @marklives was there at the International Seminar of Creativity, hosted by the Loerie Awards in Cape Town city hall. This seminar and presentation was part of its Creative Week; much similar to our Advertising Week. We thank Herman for relating and summarizing this event, and we want to share this with our readers. 

Nobay noted five things that are wrong with our industry. We'll go through them one by one, along with some of our added observations.

1. Not All Clients Want Great Work

Surprised that comes from a creative chair of an international agency? If you're not, we are. Nobay suggested that practical creative and "award-winning" creative is no longer the same thing. Many businesses there are trying to keep the same creative and activities, while agencies are trying to push the latest, newest thing. We have to step back and think, is the work what the client really needs, or are we doing the work to be able to submit it for an award?

Oh, the vanity.

2. Too Many AdPeople

Though Nobay was being specific to Sydney, the sentiment can be applied to AdLand overall. We see big brands shedding their agency rosters, or those that had an agency of record building rosters and taking work away from other shops. We've seen freelancers battle for work against small agencies, and large agencies taking away work from groups of smaller shops. And then we see the holding groups trying to build a stranglehold on all the major brands. Though the competition is good, it is not a stretch for us to ponder if AdLand is reaching saturation.

3. "Lost Our Exotic"

The advertising and marketing industry is no longer a secret. Brands and in-house marketing departments have an understanding of what needs to be done, so the agency cannot communicate to the brand as if it knows nothing. Nobay mentions that the knowledge of marketing on the senior-level client side is higher than ever before. Agencies have to adapt their presentations and pitches to reflect the change.

4. Forgotten How to Sell

Let's face it, advertising's ultimate purpose is to inform or persuade consumers in order for them to try our goods and services. Advertising helps businesses make money. Advertising was put in place so it can serve as a support to sales; those in advertising have to at least have an understanding of the sales process. Nobay mentioned that if they weren't in the business of making money, they should go be artists.

5. AdLand Awards Mediocrity

We need to fail in order to improve and find new ways to connect. Nobay encouraged agencies to work with clients and set aside pieces of the budget that would go to work that would ordinarily not be agreed upon. Nobay likened it to the creativity of children; they fall and learn and get back up to try again. AdLand and clients need to build an environment that values experimentation.

Needless to say, from here in the U.S. to around the world in Sydney, every practitioner is noticing that the way agencies do business in advertising must change. We need to get more relevant, build a better understanding of business, and maintain a sustainable structure. We also have to call on and work with clients willing to move out of this creative funk and experiment. Our experiments don't have to be funky, but let's work together to portray what the brand stands for, and how the good or service makes the lives of your audience better.

Below is a video of Nobay's talk. Tell us what you think.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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