The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Value Of Value …
March 3, 2010, 6:16 am
Filed under: Comment

Harrison Ford

As I’m sure you’ve worked out, what you’ve just read is an interview with Harrison Ford that appeared in the UK edition of film magazine, EMPIRE.

Even though he talks about the film industries attitude towards its people … something that sounds awfully similar to adland … I love the way he articulates the value of value.

It’s something adland – and the people within it – should pay close attention to, because even though history is littered with thousands of examples where they should be hanging their head in shame, there’s still many examples where work – both for an agency and for the client of an agency – has resulted in a huge and positive impact, not just on the balance sheet, but in the lives and minds of literally millions of people around the globe.

Whilst there’s always going to be fluctuations in costs and budgets, I hate that there’s this attitude adland has a ‘constantly negotiable’ price … and while I know we have to shoulder a lot of the blame for that perception … I just love the rationale Harrison Ford has for getting paid for every job.

Mind you, if there’s one person to blame for the downfall of adlands commercial value, it wouldn’t be the guy who entered a clients boardroom and talked about ads rather than their business problems … it would be the fucking idiot who pronounced to the World we were in the service industry.

Listen, even though some agencies may not know it – let alone demonstrate it – the ad industry has never been in the service industry, if anything we’re in the business liberation business and the sooner we remember that, act like that and start developing ideas like that … the better it will be for everyone.

74 Comments so far
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service industry? more like subservient industry.

a mate told me he attended some big business bollocks convention with global mds and ceos and the only conversation about agencies was whether they washed their car when they were at the agency for meetings or whether they sent their wives presents on birthdays.

sounds like fucking a scene from mad men but this was last fucking year all because certain big boys embraced this fucked up service mentality because it appeared cheaper to run than sticking with their problem solving roots.

the people who did and do this are wankers, every fucking last one of them.

ive always considered han solo to be a miserable fucker who likes shagging twigs but this interview is pretty fucking good even though nothing he is saying is new which is a bigger fucking nail in the coffin of ad agencies claims they are a serious business partner.

serious business partners value themselves they dont give it away for free. even whores know that so adland is shitter at business than prostitutes, how fucking marvellous.

round up all the big agency ceos ad put them into a sleeveless jacket and lock them away for their and our safety.

Comment by andy@cynic

The ‘prostitute’ comment is bloody excellent – we should go to agency holding company AGM’s and start shouting that … or better still, set up a fake ‘business consultancy speaker company’ and then when we get an agency call us up, send a prostitute to tell them she values her ‘brand’ better than them.

Or maybe not …

Comment by Rob

Of course you have a constantly negotiable price. So does Harrison Ford. The point is that if you compete on price, i.e negotiate downwards in order to maintain cashflow, it’s just the same as if your client’s product is competing on price – you’re saying that you value nothing else in your offering and have nothing worth a premium.

Far better to take less upfront and more of the backend (as movie stars started to do in the 80s) – but you already know and do that.

Comment by John

Price will always have an element in the decision making process – the problem is, like you say, when agencies use that as the only metric to be evaluated on … which is total madness, especially given Pete’s comment that the industry goes on and on about inherent brand value.

And I’m glad our remuneration model meets with your agreement Mr Dodds – the only reason less companies follow suit can only because they either don’t believe in their abilities enough, or have created such a ‘master & servant’ relationship that any change would result in instant termination and they can’t actually afford for that to happen.

It’s like a corporate credit crisis … and it’s all of their own making.

Comment by Rob

In line with this post, I think you should be paying the commenters.

Comment by John

I do … I reply to your emails.

Comment by Rob

and before you say if we get rid of all the dunce cap wearing consierge ceos we open ourselves up to more competition, id remind you to have some fucking faith in my fuckin genius campbell. my suggestion was a magnanimous gesture to all the talented little fuckers being held in their holding company jails of service industry stupidity.

and theres another twat who needs a kicking. probably the same prick who came up with the service industry descriptor but calling account management, account service wasnt a fucking smart move either.

adland is better suited to the demolishon industry than business building.

Comment by andy@cynic

“adland is better suited to the demolishon industry than business building”

Nice. As is the ‘account service’ observation.

Comment by Rob

Appreciation of structural increase of client gross margin needs also to come back on the agenda for adland. Not just turnover, if they get there already.

i always found talking margin with clients to be quite intimate, but also the place of real impact, value and the start of long lasting relationships, because it really shows clients that you truly get their business and problems and makes it easier for them to appreciate your solutions….

like when you and ur lady start getting past obvious stuff and start to get freaky..

Comment by Niko

Fantastic post, love Ford’s comments but as Andy says, it’s hardly earth shattering insight.

The ad industry does many good things for business (well some do) but arguably few are as valuable to corporations as our continued devaluation of our own value which is ironic given we have fought on a platform of helping companies realise, maintain and grow their own inherent brand worth but then we are an industry filled with hypocrisy at every turn.

Great post, been a great week for this blog. 

Comment by Pete

you really are the new frith arent you niko. fucking marvellous.

im going to the bookies to put 100 bucks down that within 5 years youre either a dictator, murdochs mentor/bond villain or a permanent resident of san fucking quentin. all good things for the resume or your memoirs.

Comment by andy@cynic

Please Andy, don’t encourage me.

Comment by niko

Something tells me Ford had a chat with yoda before he did this interview.
Surprised he didn’t say “of value. the value”.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Just seen this … not only is it toptastic, but it sort-of links in with what this post is.

Sort of.


Comment by Rob

Excellent interview, post and resignation clip.

The best way for your industry to value their value is by quantifiably demonstrating their value to business.

Some agencies understand this, but far too many talk effectiveness after the horse has bolted. That’s not effectiveness, that’s rationalization.

Comment by Lee Hill

Chinese New Year has just finished. You’re renegotiating contracts?

Comment by Charles Frith

Ha, funny you should say that Charles – we are – but that’s not why I wrote the post, I just loved Harrison Ford’s view regarding creating, maintaing and protecting commercial value.

Lee, I think that’s a great comment.

When I first came to Asia I was amazed how few clients – let alone agencies – talked about business requirements … preferring instead to brief on executional needs or timelines.

But then the role of the marketeer seems quite different here … far more administrative and passive than pragmatic and active … which is possibly why any successes I/we have had have been because we’ve dealt with the guys at the very top rather than the layers inbetween.

I am under absolutely no illusion that the reason we’ve been able to pull off half the interesting shit we’ve done is because we’ve have been able to quanitifably prove our value on a number of commercially important levels – with none of them – absolutely none … being purely centered around the generation of awareness.

You taught us well Lee. 🙂

Comment by Rob

This reminds me of the perpetual problem with pitches – how costly they turn out to be considering the sometimes stupid number of agencies competing against one another, etc.

To John’s earlier point, I guess this happens a lot more in categories where there usually isn’t much differentiation between the agencies’ offerings in terms of work. Those accounts tend to be the biggest ones in terms of billings too, so agencies aren’t left with much choice if they want to maintain cashflow, to John’s point again (hi John). So the clients jump from one big network to another while collecting their 10% discount every time. It’s pretty sad, but I don’t see an obvious solution to the problem, especially right now…

Comment by rafik

you think adland gets screwed on the point of value? try being an artist. we add nothing to the value of business. but that’s kind of the point – we add value to the business of living. and yet the amount of things we do for free. even the clergy gets paid more than i do sometimes. what a schmuck i am…

Comment by lauren

oh, and hi. i’m back.

Comment by lauren

If I may be so bold Lauren … I think the problem is [1] many artists don’t think they can add any value to business and [2] many artists don’t want to think they can add any value to business [for fear of being labelled a ‘sell out’] and so never explore the possibilities.

I’m not saying it would be easy – and increasing the value of life is more noble, valuable and satisfying – however if artists were open to ways to increase the value of their value in the eyes of business, I bet there would be a way without being deemed too much of a sell out … though I would imagine it would require the help of a certain Charles Saatchi to make it happen.

I know you’re going to shoot me down both in what I’ve said and the mere suggestion you would want to help big business … but I’m just saying if Damien Hurst can have allegedly more cash than Simon Cowell, there’s certainly the possibility to commercially validate the value of artists in business.

Shall I go and get my coat?

And Rafik …

The pitch process is a complete joke.

A pitch should be – and often is – won before the powerpoint has even been booted up … however the fact that the greatest differentiation between most of the big networks tends to be their name does present a problem – not just for their ability to win business, but for the industry as a whole – however given the smaller agencies [who aren’t afraid to stand for something] are picking off more and more of the ‘monster accounts’ [ie: WK with Coke and Nokia etc] then it may cause the big dinosaur networks to change their approach because they know their shareholders won’t accept them continually seeing major cashflow clients walk out the door and into the arms of an agency with less offices, people and experience.

Or they’ll just keep offering a bigger cut on their fee to secure the biz till they can only turn a profit if they hire monkeys.

And Lauren: it’s good to have you back.

Comment by Rob

And yes, I know Damien Hurst made his cash by becoming a brand rather than helping a brand [well, if you don’t count Charles Saatchi] … though I still reckon he designs packaging for Maccas in his spare time.


Comment by Rob

rob, you’re not wrong. artists can add so much value to business, it’s not even funny.

but the reality is that a) most businesses are not interested in the reality of artists adding value (which is usually bound up in risk). and b) most artists are not interested in being the pawn for businesses making more money out of them than they already do.

there’s much to be said about the art vs business debate, but sadly i don’t have enough time to go into it today. another time maybe. 🙂

Comment by lauren

I’ll hold you to that … because I think one issue is that artists don’t know how to position themselves as offering value to business.

Look at me, an uneducated slob from Nottingham … but I managed to make what little skills I have [ie: I know George and Andy – in that order, ha] sound valuable enough so that business would give us shedloads of cash to help them make even more shedloads.

If I can do it, talented artists can … it’s whether they’re willing to be ‘repositioned’. 🙂

Comment by Rob

I have nothing of value to add to this, so I shall just say good morning.

Comment by Marcus

I’m worried about you Marcus – you ALWAYS have something of value to add. It might be more about how to make me look a twat on Youtube than Harrison Ford or the commercial value of artists, but you ALWAYS have something great to add …

Comment by Rob

OK. I’ll try. I find it quite difficult to talk about the subject of value as I’ve just gone through a rather unpleasant experience that has bashed up my self confidence (self value) to shreds. I was working with a group of people on a number of very interesting projects. The people are very talented, genius almost and for most of the 4 months I was very happy. I felt valued – that is to say I felt that my work, my input into the project was valued. I should point out that there was a lot riding on this – it was my ticket out of the shed.

Over time however, I started to notice that personal time had no place within this group of people. Personal time had no value. Everybody, except for the person who running the gig, was working a full time job, going home, and working on the project. Weekends were spent fighting with wives and partners. Suddenly the value of my work, my output, stopped having value. It was all about time.

I eventually pulled out of the project because I simply couldn’t cope. The work I was doing with these people was probably the best I’ve ever done, but it has no value because no one will ever see it and I didn’t (towards the end) enjoy making it.

Now, this has nothing to do with how I positioned myself (artist or otherwise). I bet Lauren can write a book about similar experiences. Value is in the eye of the beholder, and it seemed to me that the value of the work I was doing (which was always delivered on time) diminished as the expectations (value-system) within the group shifted. The only way I could protect my own self-value was to leave the group.

Comment by Marcus

That’s sounds a bit moany. Sorry.

Comment by Marcus

bit of a comment stopper that one. sorry rob

Comment by Marcus

I understand that Marcus … been in that situation more than once myself and you’re not moaning, you are simply expressing how many people/organisations give the illusion of caring [‘value’] as long as it suits their personal needs, timelines and requirements.

Of course the counter also happens … because as soon as you realise their ‘value’ is linked more to the deliverables within certain timeframes than appreciating what you are personally adding to the overall result – then the way you look [“value”] that relationship also changes.

To be honest, it is one of these situations that led to me starting cynic – however I took a long, long time to get over the fact I’d ultimately been used [ironically by an individual within M&C] simply because someone needed some information from me within a certain period rather than actually valuing what I could do.

I’m not saying this is what you went through and I can sense the sadness and disappointment in your comment … but I hope the pain turns into anger because without the kick in the teeth/head/balls I experienced, I might not of started something that has given me a great adventure.

I know your situation is very different to mine – and certainly different to what mine was back in 2003 – but it could prove to be useful on many fronts, at the very least reminding you that everyone has their own life and to achieve things you can’t fight it, you have to embrace it in the ‘process’.

This has probably come out wrong and condecending – it isn’t meant to be and I apologise it if has – but with a bit of luck you get what I mean, though it has reminded me to go home and give the wife a massive kiss because she has been more patient and understanding than she should be or deserves.

Comment by Rob

didn’t come out wrong at all. thank you.

Comment by Marcus

I should also say that people who don’t realise the importance and value of ensuring their colleagues have time and space for personal life are the sorts of people you don’t want to get into bed with if you value your sanity.

Easier said than done I know … especially with commitments etc … but it’s doomed to long-term failure unless you have a big slice of the pie and a cutoff date.

Comment by Rob

marcus, i’m sad to hear that you had to pull out of that project and, yes, i can write a book (or a thesis, at least) on that. and that kind of time/value issue is one of the reasons i don’t have a family. because i go to work and come home to spend 10 hours on the projects i do. or 9 hours on the projects and 1 on reading blogs like these 🙂

and rob, this is going to sound feisty, but i think that most artists know as much about positioning themselves for business as prostitutes do (and we all know that prostitutes are the best at it). we just abdicate our relationship with it out of revulsion and a desire for freedom.

Comment by lauren

in fact, rob, marcus is a perfect case-in-point about the difficult relationship between artist and business and value. the business world chooses not to handle the nature of marcus’ artistic thinking, behaviour and principles. when marcus is at his finest, you watch – the business blogging peeps get nervous and start to stroke their charts and their KPIs. then the tutting starts. which of course gives marcus a quartz to mine.

[sorry marcus, i’m speaking on your behalf and i am probably well-wrong.]

Comment by lauren

you carry on love.

Comment by Marcus

Out of interest, what is the revulsion of? I’m not being a smart arse – I can guess a lot of the factors – but is it a revulsion of how some companies regard and value artists or the revulsion of “accomodating” or being seen to “accomodate”.

And maybe I am being feisty but I don’t know if artists would know how to position themselves in the interests of business relevance. They certainly know how to position themselves but isn’t that more about alienation than accomodation … accepting that in itself is better than any overtly “please like me” declaration put out by 99% of brands out there.

I guess I’m saying prostitutes want to attract investment but artists tend to want to disuade it, at least from institutions deemed inappropriate to the values they hold dear. (which I also think is a better example of how to build a brand than the jelly backbone favoured by so many)

I’m on your side really, I hope you know that … artists do way more for the development of culture, society and education than pretty much any listed company (hence my comment on your blog about how ridiculous it is Melbourne council are trying to disade live music) it’s just had some news today that has made me even more petty and argumentative than normal. Sorry lovely.

Comment by Rob

I, for one, am looking for investment.

Comment by Marcus

me too

Comment by lauren

It doesn’t help when you have suits that ask ‘how high’ when the client says ‘jump’.
I have actually seen a brief structure that has a section titled, ‘What does the client want’.
What I do is very valued – tea making I mean

Comment by northern–chat-shoulder-on.html

Unfortunately, amongst others, Nigeria and the former Eastern Block countries have created somewhat of a supply overload of “women with miles on them” as there is a trend to rely on more younger and “fresher” talent.

Thus ironically making the prostitution business look alot like the adland you wrote about here and in that other post about vacations, Rob.

reduced profit, longer working hours, price competition and clients demanding more for less, etc.

Great post and comments.

Comment by niko

shit. i need to go to bed, but i will come back to this. probably long after you’ve moved on.

Comment by lauren

harrison ford did that shithole movie sabrina, fuck knowing the value of value, hes lucky he gets paid at all.

couple of comments and marcus and lauren shouldnt fucking read into this. lot of people say they want investment but what they really want is a donation. if you want people to invest you have to accept the fuckers have certain rights and if you dont want to accept those rights you shouldnt accept their moolah or you need to deal with it all upfront.

fucking hard when making your idea a reality is a signature away but too many people forget its not what you think its worth its what someone else thinks its worth (reality blinkers) and if the 2 dont meet someone is going to be fucked off and its hardly ever the guys with the wallet.

second point. and marcus and lauren can get fucked off but its not done to do that because i fucking love them as people and talent.

i totally fucking get that biz types might not be able to handle marcus or only want the bits they feel comfortable with. but does marcus know how to handle biz types so he can get away with doing the bits the biz people dont feel comfortable with?

hes fucking smart and has a fucking long term job so i think we know hes been fucked by selfishness rather than arrogance or ignorance but its a 2 way street and very fucking easy to blame the other side even if in marcus, lauren and my case were always fucking right.

you realise if adidas werent wankers life would be different marcus. fucking germans. its a matter of meeting the right people or working with the right people and i suppose thats where my 2 hangers on have a bit of value, especially the one with the influential friend.

not said any of this to fuck anyone off. not said this pointed to anyone. just said it because im in donald wiggy trump mode even though if i was so fucking good at biz i wouldnt be with planners and wouldnt be keeping exes in the style they have no right to be fucking used to.

love you marcus and lauren. everyone else is a cock. except niko. and northern. and mortimer. oh fuck it, everyone but campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

that all sounds fair to me Boucher.

Comment by Marcus

I would be more than happy to talk to businesses about the stuff I do. Fact is, I haven’t. May be it’s time to change that.

Comment by Marcus

that is good news in every fucking way.

Comment by andy@cynic

here here.

Comment by lauren

what np said. apart from that, i think an agency is in the service business. you do the client a service. but that shouldnt mean you do it as a servant or even for free. the worst thing i have seen is making booklets till the small hours for a client’s meeting. because the client (or the clients interns?) couldnt ‘make time’. so the agency did it. for free, of course. how very motivating for the people working on that account and really good for commitment. things like that neither do the agency nor the client a real service. reminds me of crowdsourcing. after all, business is about people. if you want to make money ‘using’ people, value them. spending money is one part of that. cheap isnt the way to go. sounds bland, but i often think that is forgotten.

Comment by peggy

Late to all this – very interesting, but too pissed on Diet Coke to write anything good.

What I will say is that whilst I understand why you would say adland is in the ‘service industry’ Peggy, I think that descriptor sends out totally the wrong signal because we wouldn’t say our parents in the service industry and yet they are there to guide and protect us etc etc.

Anyway I will leave you with this post … the only question is which came first, the piss taking client or the slave agency?

Comment by Rob

Diet Coke? You should see what espresso does to my usual calm and cool demeanour

Comment by northern

you should see the fucker after a packet of strepsil cough sweets. he goes out of fucking control. weird bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

whats that talk about strepsils? i got some flying about here. wanted to bring them to the pharmacy because they have gone off. or should i keep them and try them next weekend instead of a drink? lol

Comment by peggy

campbell got pissed on the fuckers. proper pissed then started taking the piss out of lee. proper piss taking. piss taking even i wouldnt do. if he ever has wine gums the world is fucked.

Comment by andy@cynic

without having read the post you linked to, i say the slave agency (of course it needed clients who were after the opportunity of ‘cheap’ as well). and it all went downhill from there. which might be a reason why using the descriptor of ‘service industry’ is sending out the wrong signals nowadays.

Comment by peggy

Kellogs fired JWT in the favour of Leo Burnett. Both had worked on their brands for millenia, history was so mystical they couldn’t quite work out who had invented Tony the Tiger or the Snap Crackle and Pop pixies.
In the same year JWT produced the years’s 4th most motivating ad (whatever that means) they got dumped as part of a re-evaluation of costs.
Lawyers and brand gurus are consultants, agencies are the servants. It’s their own fault, when they had their feet under the table they became Porsche wearing polo necked tops cliches. So the bastards at the top in their ivory towers have reaped the rewards and left us lot to deal with the fall out. No wonder they went off to be bankers.
Which, incidentally, reminds me of baby boomers too…student fees? The people who enjoyed it all for free are now telling todays bright young things the world doesn’t owe them a living. The same ones who can retire at 60 on a final salary pension while their kids and junior employees face working ’till their 70.

Comment by northern

funny how youre so much more disruptive now youve left the house of disruption.

Comment by andy@cynic

Andy’s prostitute comment is good. Especially when (as seen with the protests in Belgium) ad agencies stand on street corners flashing animatics at passing marketers.

Also, the point about pitches with a winner already decided is spot on. Those that flit for whoever is fashionable, or just want to cut costs, or pitch for pitchings sake; horrible.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Isn’t that weird?

Comment by northern

Actually Northern it was us who made that Kelloggs ad not London. The point is spot on though, a US decided move with no creative consideration whatsoever.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

following up on your point about the baby boomers np… if the young ever get a chance to work until they are in their 70s. its pathetic.

Comment by peggy

Did I say London?

Comment by northern

not really northern. lol.

the nobble is the best pitch winning strategy there is. other than best mates in very high fucking places. endorsement or appearance works pretty well too, especially if the clients a groupie. the work? about 25% whatever any fucker says. the difference is good agencies still strive to make that the main reason while the other fuckers will lower the fee. the other fuckers might have more money but i have the prouder wife. even the ones who fucking hate me.

Comment by andy@cynic

NP: Nah, just that Campaign made it look like London so didn’t know if you were aware!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

campaign makes everything look like fucking london.

Comment by andy@cynic

I think account managers are to blame.

Comment by John

I have nothing to base that on, but i figure it will pass muster in this den of planners and creatives.

Comment by John

And it seems to me that anything that separates the planners and the creatives from the client is counter intuitive.

Comment by John

As a consultant for a couple of years now, I’ve realized it’s kind of like dating… about which they say, “Why buy the cow, if you can get the milk for free?”

Comment by Kylie

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