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

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Neon …

One of the things I’ve found fascinating over the past few years is watching consultancies AND platforms mock the value of advertising and then increasingly try and enter that space.

And while you could argue it’s because they saw an opportunity to do it ‘properly’, the way they have embraced it – and executed it – has shown they seem to want to be more like the beast they wanted to slay than the beast they are.

What do I mean?

Go to Cannes and the whole place has been taken over by corporations.

All the best locations, beaches, hotels are the domain of tech, consultancies and platforms.

Now you could say that’s because they’re the ones with all the money – and that’s true – but what is amusing is WHAT they do.

Because rather than reflect ‘a better way to do what those ad agencies used to do’ … they seem to be doing the same thing ad agencies used to do.

Celebrity talks.
Expensive dinners.

In fact the only thing that is different is how desperately bad their attempts to show ‘they’re creativity’ actually are.

Nothing brought this home more than a poster I recently saw promoting an advertising festival.

An advertising festival representing the ‘modern’ world of the industry.

This was it …

What. The. Hell?

Seriously … what is it?

I’m not just talking about the design and colour palette that could make a 1987 acid house party feel embarrassed … I’m talking about all of it.

The email automation masterclass.

The ‘scale your YouTube’ talk.

The $15 million ad storytelling formula class.

And let’s not forget the ‘thumb-stopping’ direct response scripts.

Look, I get small business may get something out of some of this.

And I appreciate there are many elements to run a successful business.

But this all comes across as used car salesman shit.

Worse, used car salesman shit where their office is a portacabin on a muddy industrial estate in Slough.

In all seriousness, what I find astounding is this must be what the people behind this conference must think is creativity. And don’t get me started on what it says about the people presenting there.

I include Scott Galloway who said ‘brands are dead’ and then not only invests in elevating his own brand, but starts selling courses on how to approach better brand strategy.

[For the record, I respect Scott Galloway hugely but when he said that – like when Mark Ritson said his advertising course was a ‘mini MBA’, when it is nothing at all like a MBA – I couldn’t help but feel their focus was becoming more about building their own cult than building better marketers. In fact, given their approaches have now been so optimised, systemised and codified … you could argue it’s actually undermining brand building because everyone is following the same approach and the result is passive corporate conformity. But I digress …]

I guess what I’m saying is that for all the smarts of modern marketing, the people behind this conference – and potentially the people at it – are revealing they know jack-shit about creativity or culture.

And you know what? That would be fine if they didn’t pretend they otherwise.

But for all their big Cannes events … agency buy-outs … and talk about advertising, the reality is they view creativity as a ‘wrapper’ for their engineering type processes.

A belief there is a singular approach to engage and grow – regardless of audience or category. That the features around a brand are more important than the brand. Or as I told WARC, that the condiments are more valuable than the steak.

Do not get me wrong, advertising has a lot of problems.

It’s got a lot it can learn from platforms and consultancies.

But at our best, we know how to use the power of creativity and culture in ways so many of thehaven’t got a clue about.

Now some may say that statement shows how out of date I am.

How contemporary business doesn’t care about all that.

And maybe that’s right … but while I could point out the vast majority of brands who are infectious to culture were not born anywhere near a ‘consultants proprietary marketing playbook’ … all I have to do is point at the AdWorld poster and say, “Look at that shit”.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there will be a bunch of valuable stuff at the conference.

I am sure it will attract tens of thousands of people.

It may make the organisers a shit-ton of cash.

But for all the smarts appearing at Adworld, they sure as shit don’t have any appreciation of style. And I would like to point out that I say this as someone who was wearing an ironic Celine Dion T-shirt when I typed this.

And with that, I wish you a good weekend … which only gets better for you when I let you know there is a national holiday here on Monday so there will be no post till Tuesday [I know, I just had 2 days off for national holiday – deal with it] … so with that, I leave you with a sneak-peak of the Adworld virtual after party dance floor.

29 Comments so far
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what the fuck is that? even your dress sense isnt as fucked up as this shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

That might be the closest thing to a compliment I’ve ever seen Andy give you

Comment by Rob (Other one)

Hahaha … the best back-handed compliment you mean.

Comment by Rob

as a homing pigeon for hacks, its fucking imperious.

Comment by andy@cynic

Possibly your finest ever comment.

Comment by Rob

Is this real?

Comment by George

Yep. And there’s another one – for another conference – that is basically the same. But in yellow.

Comment by Rob

and of course youre having another fucking holiday. every day is one big fucking paid pisstake for you isnt it campbell. best strategy youve ever pulled off.

Comment by andy@cynic

steve balmer is such a fucking twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

You had an interesting time with Steve Balmer didn’t you Robert?

Comment by George

the wieden+campbell incident?

Comment by andy@cynic

Hahahaha … that was SUPER embarrassing.

But not as embarrassed as his THREE PA’s were when they saw me turn up at Redmond in my Birkenstocks, hahaha.

Comment by Rob

Nice to see Andrew has decided to honour the poster design by commenting as if this blog was still in the 90’s too.

Comment by George

interesting fucking approach to get me to buy you dinner this weekend. twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m jealous. And not even about Andy maybe paying for dinner, just you guys getting together. Sentimentality can really mess with your memories can’t it … hahaha.

Comment by Rob

To be fair to Andy, this blog acts like its still the 90s.

Comment by Bazza

smartest thing youve ever said.

Comment by andy@cynic

I wonder if it has been designed like that to disguise some of the terrible talks it it promoting? Email automation?

Comment by Pete

This is so unfair of you. If you’d actually looked at the website, you’d have disocvered that the conference offers a huge number of career development benefits. These include.

A “Certified Ad World 2022 Attendee” badge for your website, email signature, and LinkedIn profile

A printable digital certificate

Recognition as a “Certified Ad World 2022 Attendee”

Now who looks ridiculous?

Comment by John

Certified adworld 2022 attendee is next level ego.

Comment by Bazza

Printable digital is the future.

Comment by John

This can’t be a future of marketing conference. There’s no experts talking about how they understand everything about web3.0, crypto and NFTs?

Comment by Bazza

Are you talking about those people who are ‘experts’ because they made cash by being quick and speculative or are you referencing those who position themselves as visionaries because they attach themselves to things others are doing by saying it reflects a comment they made a few months/years ago – despite them never doing anything themselves with their genius?

In all honesty, good on them. They’re pushing themselves up and who can begrudge that. My real issue is how the industry accepts it so blindly. We are slowly forgetting that marketing involves making stuff – and that is not simply hype or short-term cash gains.

By all means go for it, but at some point, we have to remember we need things to hype rather than simply hype itself.

Comment by Rob

My goodness, that is bad. On the other hand, your comment about Scott Galloway’s evolution to media celebrity, is good.

Comment by Lee Hill

The cult of the caricature.

Happening everywhere … driven by the influencer model of expectations. Seriously, the inflation rate for how you are supposed to behave to maintain interest is higher than Russia’s will be, after all the sanctions truly kick in.

Comment by Rob

“Because rather than reflect ‘a better way to do what those ad agencies used to do’ … they seem to be doing the same thing ad agencies used to do.”

That’s because they hire the same agency people or acquire the agencies AND mix them up in the weirdest way! Would you ask a digital guy, or worse someone who builds app and websites, to interview candidates for a brand strategy role in “proper agencies”? Worse this “digital guy” isn’t the person building the apps or websites himself because he’s in business development role!!! So the expected result is that this digital guy asked the brand strategist-candidates all sorts of silly questions that should have been known if the digital guy has worked outside of pure tactical executions.

Comment by Bstrategist

Even though I don’t think people are always as myopic about their discipline and/or application of it as your comment suggests, I do get – and agree – with your point.

For me, a big part of this is a lack of standards, training and understanding of how business – and people – work … because the quest for cash, scale and quick wins is a much more desirable outcome for companies. And, just as disappointingly, people in them.

Of course this is not always the case, but sadly I do see a lot of it.

Answers over understanding.
Influence over media.
Media over influence.
Speed over substance.
Intellectualism over reality.
KPI’s over building a brand.
Etc Etc

Comment by Rob

I remember seeing the sadly deceased Martin Cole (what a lovely, lovely man) doing a talk on how agencies could still win because only a minority of talented people could work in visual language. Creativity is one thing, the ability to blend logic, emotion and artistic expression, the actually have ideas is not half as easy as the consultancies would like to think
In my neck of the woods, now performance agencies have become commoditised and performance clients have finally realised you actually have to put stuff in a funnel to convert at the other end, they’re getting moist for creativity and brand – trouble is, they haven’t a clue to do it and don’t realise they don’t- they reckon it’s easy because it doesn’t involve big data (though it can). It’s a bit like when Micheal Jordan took up baseball, except he did better

Comment by northern

I really like this comment Northern. There is a narrative going around that tries to suggest the people at the very top are just lucky. It feels an attempt by the people who haven’t got there to say they are just as good but have been denied by misfortune. Luck definitely plays a part but to suggest that is all it is, is ridiculous. The people I know who are have been exceptional over years and roles have achieved that because of their unique talent, mixed with their exceptional work ethic. I wish I was like that, but having worked with and for those people, I knew early on I was not that. But I did get better because of them.

Comment by Pete

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