Don’t Help To Sell Product But Help To Create Them

I really don’t like our common perception of “advertising guy”. Everytime I tell my relatives or friends of my parents I am learning advertising,  they will respond like “Wow so you must be good at convincing people!” (sounds like I am an expert of lying) It always make me feel a little bit unhappy, because the word “convince” makes me feel like we are helping the bad guy and using some trick to force people to purchase bad things. That is what I doubt about the logic of advertising industry: Why clients always hire us after they produce something not so good? Why they hire us to solve the problem, but not to help avoiding problem at the beginning?

As I mentioned in the previous post, to a certain extent, the status of advertising agency is eroded by data supplier in the new food chain. Like Turrow(2011) said, traditionally advertising executives often tried to place ads where the “environment” of editorial matter would fit with the tenor of the personality and status of the product but in the digital environment this concern has narrowed to near content that might not hurt the brand. Meanwhile, the rise of prosumer is also a strike to the dominant position of agencies in this industry. For example, entrepreneurial vloggers participate in YouTube’s advertising sharing scheme (Burgess & Green, 2009), which means advertisers can skipped the agencies to finish their advertising job. Therefore, there is obviously no much room for creative agencies to play their part in the field of information circulation today.  So maybe it’s time to travel up-stream.

Therefore, I suggest that advertising agencies should build their partnership with clients before the process of product development, especially with some start-ups, or even begin their own business, so that to gain more initiative. RedPepper Founder Dave McMullen, notes that product innovation and development allows agencies to rely less on the old, time-based agency business model and capitalize on new revenue models(Hall, 2013) , “By making money outside of the client-controlled billable hour, agencies can focus more on passion projects and work that inspires them rather than work that simply pays the bills.” Morevoer,  creating products is also a way to take the ownership of intellectual property, which is always a lack but also a concern from agencies. When the feeling of unsafety is not easy to deal with while pitching for clients, why not just create your own product with a definite copyright.

Of course participating in the product development is not only beneficial for agencies. In this age of experience economy, people are consuming some kind of experience rather than some kind of product. Take the smart phone as an example, is there any crucial functional difference between IPhone and Samsung phone? Someone choose IPhone may just because the brand make him become the kind of people he want to be. Creating emotional connection is exactly what ad agencies are good at. Targeting and planning a strategy toward the right audience after a product is already done and  the technological flaw cannot be changed, is really a wise decision? With the skills and creative minds, ad firms can come up with a unique insight and set the tone of consumer experience at the beginning of developing a business model, which will surely help the company to avoid following problems.

Today, it’s a reality that creative talents keep leaving agencies. People are disappointed about that agencies aren’t about innovation or hacker-like creativity, it’s just about billable hours (Murat, 2013). Murat indicated that “Clients are often reactive and risk-adverse, they want something after everyone else has done it to death. By the time they give you a brief, it’s old news.” “If you sell ‘innovation’ as one of your agencies capabilities (who doesn’t these days?) then you should be making experiments and prototypes with technology plain and simple.” That’s why I suggest agencies should move up-stream of the industry chain, always working after clients and waiting for their demand will never push your boundaries. If agencies are really better know the consumers and more creative as they claim, it’s reasonable to take the leadership.

At last, I want to share an article introduced 16 unlikely products launched by ad agencies (Oetting, 2014). Here is a really cool one, which won the first Cannes Lion Innovation Grand Prix in 2013:

Cinder from The Barbarian Group on Vimeo.

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