April 16, 2015

Corruption And Fraud Starting To Hurt

A couple of weeks ago we posted a two-part piece that asked Will Advertising Corruption Scandal Explode?

The nub of the potential scandal is that the gullible clowns in big marketing corporations are being screwed blind by the sharpies in the global agency holding companies who are...
1. Buying online media at one price and selling it to them at another.

2. Taking kickbacks...oops, I mean "volume-based incentives"...from media vendors.

3. Buying media that is in the agency's best interests, not the client's.
My point of view was that clueless advertisers have been getting so badly date-raped by every variety of con man, digi-hustler, techno-crook, and cyber-scammer for so long that they probably wouldn't even notice a few billion gone missing to agency scoundrels.

However, it could be that I'm wrong. In the last few days a couple of influential ad industry analysts have been downgrading the big agency holding companies based on the belief that their somnambulant clients might finally be regaining consciousness and realizing what's been going on.

Brian Wieser, an influential analyst at Pivotal Research Group, had this to say...
“The volume and specificity of allegations by aggrieved media owners, former agency executives and marketers are difficult to ignore. Rightly or wrongly, there is a growing perception among marketers that agencies have been misleading, transferring value associated with media volumes without clients’ full understanding or support.”
He went on to say...
“As...more specific allegations come to light, a drumbeat of negativity will build around the sector over the course of this year....Given this risk, we’d recommend that investors move to the sidelines or exit the sector altogether while it all plays out.”
So who knows, maybe these creeps will finally get what's coming to them.

I know how hard and how diligently most people in the agency business
work on behalf of their clients. I've seen the blood and I've felt the suffering.

The online media industry is rotten to the core and a terrible discredit to our business.

And as we have documented here over the past few years, the agency component of online media fraud and corruption is only a small part of this sleazy circus. 

April 15, 2015

Where Are The Misbehaving Malcontents?

Advertising is getting more technically adept. And as it does so, it seems to be getting more spiritually colorless.

I know that advertising was never a spiritual pursuit. And I'm not one of those nincompoops who believes that things were so much better in the good old days.

But I miss the crazy people.

I used to be able to pick up an advertising magazine and read something outrageous, or at least thought-provoking.

I used to read about people who had crazy ideas about what advertising should be. Now all I read is the carefully manicured stylings of corporate mannequins.

They're wearing black t-shirts these days and sporting knit caps but they're the same old jargonistas in a new drag.

Who's crazy any more? Where are the troublemakers and the bullshit caller-outers? Where are the misbehaving malcontents?

One of my former colleagues once said that success in advertising was about "harnessing immaturity." But we seem to have wrung all the immaturity out of the business.

I guess there is a school of thinking that would assert that advertising is better off without  the bedwetters and the screaming miscreants.

But I gotta tell you...I miss them.

April 13, 2015

The Dumbest Client I Ever Didn't Get

One of the great joys of the ad business is that if you're in it long enough you'll meet every kind of dumb person on the planet.

During my career in advertising I had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of nice, intelligent people. And more than a few real nitwits.

Among the nitwits, one stands out.

Thankfully, he never became a client. As a matter of fact, I only had the pleasure of being with him in one meeting. But in that one meeting it became clear to me that a well-dressed, well-spoken, internationally handsome imbecile could really go far in marketing.

I don't want to embarrass anybody, so I won't get too specific.

One of our clients, a very successful food company here in the U.S., was doing a joint venture with a European company to introduce a new "fresh fruit" product. Well, it was kind of fresh and kind of fruit, but nonetheless, it was positioned as a "fresh fruit" product. It was juice-like.

The product was just so-so and if everything went perfectly I gave it about a 30% chance of success. For some reason the introduction in the U.S. was being handled by the cmo of the European partner, which gives you some idea of how well thought-out this whole enterprise was.

We were finalists in a multi-agency circle jerk. To the European cmo we were just some dumb agency from San Francisco. He was used to internationally dumb agencies.

At the final presentations, he came down from the mountain to attend the meetings. We did a good presentation -- nothing brilliant, but solid and workable and capable of creating a successful launch.

And then Mr. Euromoron stepped in and revealed his brilliant strategy:
"Do you know how many people in the U.S. never buy fresh fruit juice?" he asked rhetorically. "Almost 50%!"

"Really?" I replied. And so...?

"So that means half the people in the U.S. are the perfect target for our new product."

Hold it, you're not saying....

"We're going to target all those people who are not buying fruit juice and..."

"Excuse me," I said. "You mean you are not going to target a juice product to people who buy juice? You want to target it to the people who don't?"

"Yes," he said, with the pride of those who believe they are thinking 'outside the box' but are really thinking inside their ass. "Look at the enormous opportunity."

"May I ask a question?" I asked. "Why do you think these people don't buy fruit juice?"

"Because... some bullshit about convenience.... or some other bullshit about marketing... or some more bullshit about engagement...." he replied.

"No, you fucking moron, it's because they don't fucking like it, you stupid fuck." Is what I wanted to say.
But being the gentleman that I am, I just farted and left the room.

Oh, we didn't get the account and the product died in about 10 minutes.