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Hey Agencies, Squeeze This! thumbnail

Hey Agencies, Squeeze This!

There used to be a time where thinking small was considered thinking big. A time when the crazy ones were looked up to for being pioneers and the essence of innovation that challenged us to think different, inspired us to be great. The forefathers of our industry — Doyle Dane Bernbach, J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather — changed the course of the agency model by combining the world of Art & Copy. Today, more than ever, we need to be as bold and fearless.


An Open Letter to Event Planners thumbnail

An Open Letter to Event Planners

I recently attended a conference in Los Angeles. The list of brands presenting and attending was quite impressive. I don’t want to say which conference it was, but many of the attendees were from the biggest consumer brands in the world. I felt very privileged to be rubbing elbows with such very important people. Of course, I was expecting to witness incredible, engaging and well put together presentations. The speaker list was “off the hook!”

I settled into my seat, put my iPhone away and prepared myself to be blown away. Two slides into the first presentation my heart sank.


Question for You thumbnail

Question for You

The holiday season is here. I heard my first Christmas song on the radio. Lights are going up. Trees are seen tied to the tops of SUV’s. Over the weekend, family and friends gathered for some thankful gluttony. At Thanksgiving dinner, I was introduced to a good friend’s Father, who was in town visiting. He of course asked me what I did for a living. I told him. The small talk continued as we chatted about advertising, my career, DVR’s, a funny TV spot he liked and the annoying length of commercials during NFL games. Gesturing to me with his cocktail in hand, he then asked me a very pointed question. It was a sincere question. It felt like my Grandfather asking me what I really thought about something.


Stop with the Kitchen Sink thumbnail

Stop with the Kitchen Sink

“Consultants are people who have influence but no direct power to change organizations.” – Peter Block, Flawless Consulting

What a brilliant definition; it sums up who and what consultants are. We are brought in as outsiders to identify problems and offer solutions, but not to implement – that’s left for the client to handle. But all too often consultants, be they agencies or seasoned individuals, add more fuel to the fire and make things more complicated.


Research: Creative Friend or Foe? thumbnail

Research: Creative Friend or Foe?

So, it’s a sunny South African Friday afternoon. Five of us are huddled around the boardroom table, staring at the telephone that sits in front of us. Faintly you can hear the sound of creatives enjoying a few drinks at the agency bar downstairs. I’ve been here before. Eagerly awaiting the call from a potential piece of business you just pitched, to hopefully tell you that you’ve just been appointed as their new ad agency.


Adapt or #Fail. Darwin and Marketing: Businesses Have to Evolve thumbnail

Adapt or #Fail. Darwin and Marketing: Businesses Have to Evolve

There’s great turmoil in the world of creative agencies. Marketeers are under pressure, budgets are low and it’s still uncertain whether or not the budget for the second half-year will even be available. But never mind… the agency world has always had it’s highs and lows, and hopes are high that a little life will be breathed back into the budgets in 2013, allowing us to dismiss the current climate as a temporary blip.


Creative Vomit thumbnail

Creative Vomit

It’s a common phenomenon for creative people all over the world. They love what they do with mind and body, and when this is compromised, reciprocal events can arise quite literally and with the full co-operation from vital organs.

This is by no means a weakness. On the contrary it means you have a point of view, a stomach, a standard to keep, you have ideas and most importantly you care about them.


Embracing the Unknown thumbnail

Embracing the Unknown

I once presented a chart to a client many years ago that unintentionally scared the hell out of him. It was based on a speech that you may be familiar with, about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq by the then US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. My chart had three concentric circles. Inside the smallest circle was written ‘What we know,’ inside the next largest was written ‘What we know that we don’t know,’ and inside the outer circle was written ‘What we don’t know that we don’t know.’ This particular client didn’t really appreciate my honest suggestion that, despite our best intentions, we can only depend on so much for the long-term plan we were proposing. He wanted it all figured out, a guaranteed roadmap that he could show to his boss.


How Advertising Lost its Relevance thumbnail

How Advertising Lost its Relevance

Say what you will about advertising, it’s origins, the characters and charlatans who have practiced it, the geniuses whose ideas fundamentally changed the playing field, the impact of various media and each one’s unique ability to reach and touch consumers in meaningful ways, ads today are often side shows meant to distract from reality rather than enlighten and inform.


Nigel Tufnel and The Hard Sell thumbnail

Nigel Tufnel and The Hard Sell

Among the people I know who’ve done any real time in ad agencies, most agree that their best ideas never got past the boardroom presentation. Yet I vaguely recall, when the Cannes reel would get passed around, some clients asking, “why can’t we do work like that?”, a backhanded indictment of the agency for the usually banal pap that was their advertising.


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