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Agencies: Blow Up and Start Over
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The title is the phrase spoken by Cindy Gallop, former chairwoman of BBH, when she was speaking in the U.K. at the Guardian's Changing Advertising Summit. Gallop apparently has issues with the way ad agencies are currently built, and believes that their current models are unsustainable.

Her sentiments for the future of advertising are not different from Havas' David Jacobs, Droga5 Sydney's David Nobay, and Goodvertising's Tom Kolster. If these thought leaders are all on the same page, maybe their thoughts might be worth listening to.

According to Campaign, Gallop gave a thought-provoking talk about the current state of the agency world, and what needs to happen to make sure the world stays around in the future.

That's where her suggestion for agencies to "blow themselves up and start over" came up.

Gallop believes that agency leaders are stuck in the "old world order" of things, and that the trouble with the agency structure comes from its core. The reason we see agencies lay off people, cut departments, or add new capabilities is because agencies are trying to figure out the best formula without completely starting over. Gallop suggests that the agency guts itself entirely a build something new. We see that in other industries, do we not? Sometimes it is more effective to knock down a house and build a new one, versus adding additions and remodeling.

Then she made a remark that really resonated. Cindy continued to talk about how ads — especially digital and online ones — are currently made. She described the countdown or choice consumers face, along with the wording "continue watching after these short advertisements" or "download for free after watching these ads," pointing out that we need to change the way the ads are positioned.

Because right now, the ads are annoying.

We make the ads in a way that forces the consumers to watch them, making them feel like they were tricked and coerced to watch the ads to get the goods they wanted. Gallop then quoted Marc Goldstein, who said that people hate advertising in general, but love advertising in particular. Which we see all the time. People say they hate advertising, but then we all can remember conversations with people about ads they absolutely loved. Gallop said that we need to focus more on the latter. 

We must make people love advertising in general.

What then, should agencies do? Gallop suggests the leading thought of the industry, which is incorporating social responsibility into our daily activities.

"Social profit and financial profit."

The magazine then asked her if she knew of or thought any agencies out there now were doing this, and she said no. Why? Because currently those who are starting up agencies are ones who've already "made it" in the Ad world and are building an agency based on the antiquated principles.

Well, maybe not. 

Either way, Gallop brought up some good points and a call-to-action for the industry. Let's make it our goal to make advertising good.


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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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