Why Advertising Agencies Rule

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Embrace Experience. Breath Innovation. Produce Intimately.

Sure the world has changed. But I think it’s time to realize that we haven’t changed much. A couple of years ago I was one of the people running around screaming that the world was coming to an end, that the traditional advertising agency model was over and that the world would never be the same again. In a way, we need people running around like that to initiate discussions and spark debate, but I also think we have to look outside our window and see what the real world looks like, because – let’s face it – the biggest and greatest agencies are also doing things right. I believe in taking EVERY piece of knowledge I can from these agencies and adding on everything new I can possibly find from the frontier and then pour it all in the blender. Will it blend? I think it will!

Production Intimacy

Just because an agency doesn’t understand search marketing dynamics it doesn’t mean that it can’t create massive results using television, print, and outdoor. Just because an agency has in-house production resources doesn’t mean it will loose it’s strategic capabilities. Quite the contrary. Personally, I believe in keeping production intimate for two reasons: First, emotion is in the finger tips, and emotion is such an amazingly important part of strategy that outsourcing it lowers communications quality significantly. Second, let’s face it, it’s hard to get the very best creatives on a freelance basis. At least that’s my experience. Feel free to challenge this.

At Honesty we try to have the same people on the production set (and in SEO- & conversion tuning labs for that matter) as we have at the initial strategy workshop. This plays into our philosophy of “Clarity & Emotion” where we try to simplify everything to super clear but emotionally punchy topical packets that inspire people to pass along the brand story. We really can’t outsource that.

Finger Tip Feel Requires Finger Tips (Not Robot Arms)

Occasionally, we outsource specific things like design, illustration or sound design. We’ve recently worked with a very established artist from Sweden for illustrations and a superstar designer from New York for identity, and they’ve both delivered qualities that we could never (and should never) have in-house. But that’s completely different from outsourcing all production and delivery. We can outsource roasting the beans, but we can’t outsource the barista so to speak. Finger tip emotional execution requires finger tips – not robot arms.

From Radical Idealism to Pragmatic Innovative

My journey has gone from radical idealism to pragmatic innovative. For me to be happy, I don’t want to settle with only having super progressive ideas. I want to make them happen. And to do that, I have to look outside my window and grasp the reality my client lives in. I want to create kick ass communication that we know will work in all media channels, while also building Google equity and evolving the brand through design and customer service. I want to take clients by the hand on a journey to greatness; I don’t want to do is insist on trying to teleport them to la-la-land. It doesn’t work, and no marketing manager worth its salt will let you do that anyway.

The Recipe for Success Then? This Is What I Think:

  1. Information Clarity
  2. Butterflies in stomach
  3. Tight team of highly skilled individuals
  4. Few strategy slides (tight strategy = consultants assuming responsibility for making choices)
  5. Production intimacy

Funky Business Models vs. Great Minds

In the end, our business is all about results, and I think we can all see that advertising agencies are not as dead as some entrepreneurial people thought a couple of years ago (though I appreciate the ambition). There are a lot of great minds at those “soon to be dead” agencies, and a new and funky business model will never beat brilliant people when it comes to consulting businesses. Why? The consulting business is all about – you guessed it – the consultants.

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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