The Agency Void

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I have mixed feelings about Cannes 2008. It felt like maybe, just maybe, things are starting to move ever so slightly. I would say that there is a growing void between two different schools of advertising. Myself, I’m clearly on one side. It seems to me that the majority of the world’s advertising juries are on the other.

The other side is pretty content. They devour everything at Cannes Lions. They love the print category production value. They watch the film category for hours and hours. They take notes. They win lots of prizes. They repeat old one-shots over and over, and they know it’ll win them even more prizes. I’ve stood around listening to conversations going on between people from these agencies. I’ve watched them patting each other’s backs and telling each other that they are the only good agencies around. They have massive respect for the Lions being presented on stage and they’re blinded by gold. They are the people that will hold us all back, because they’re a comfortable choice for marketing managers everywhere. The print grand prix winner above is a typical product of this school of advertising. Quirky/funny but strategically rock bottom. I’d rather have my kids being playful brats running around outdoors than having them hypnotized by some battery powered toy.

The side that I’m on is the frustrated side. We see the changes happening in people’s behavior, and we see that communication NEEDS to change. We read psychology books, not awards books. We see enabling components and platforms becoming available as commodities all over the Internet. We consider firing our technical production staff, and focus on story and psychology. We stare in disbelief at how Cannes Lions and other contests conserve old communication rather than embracing and awarding innovation. Again and again we see how old and often times “borrowed” solutions are delivered in ultra polished presentations and are awarded prizes. Sure, we understand why this happens, but that only makes us more frustrated. We want to have lions too, but today we are not winners. We’re idealists. It’s a whole other ball game. Here is an example of this school of thinking. Below is another, that actually did win an integrated lion. (Strange category name by the way).

Before I end this post, which I suspect will provoke a reaction or two, I just want to say this:
There are some incredibly smart people in this industry. I’ve talked to a few of them during this week in Cannes. We don’t necessarily agree on everything, but i truly respect them. I hope that these people will keep producing amazing work and that they’ll manage to sell it to their clients. And I hope that they’ll have their day on stage in Cannes. They deserve it.

About the Blog

This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.
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