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Manufacturing Indaba 2018

Why don't ad agencies advertise? (Part III)

One of the greatest ironies of the advertising industry is that they don't believe in their own product.
I know this to be true because ad agencies don't advertise. Of course they want you to - but they most certainly don't do so themselves.

When last did you see the ATL TVC for your favourite ad agency? Never? Because I can hear the howls already, the "of course we don't advertise on TV because we target our advertising at potential clients".

I went to look at the industry publications presumably read by clients shopping for an agency.

Here is just a single example: the June 2012 issue of AdVantage has 20 full-page ads in a 72-page book, including an inside front cover double-page spread; an inside back cover (IBC) ad and an outside back cover (OBC) ad.

Delicious irony

How many of them were from ad agencies? Only one! And (oh delicious irony) it was a "blackmail" ad placed by TBWA Cape Town to support an advertising feature on the city. I thought it was a crap ad - but that's just my opinion.

All the other ads in that edition of AdVantage were ads from media owners - advertising to the ad industry.

Yet, the very same edition of AdVantage was crammed to the gunnels - overflowing, with editorial - PR for the ad industry about every issue you could possibly think of.

Why would you waste your money on something that even those who make their living from don't believe in?

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About Peter Mann

Peter Mann is a founder of Meropa Communications ( and has been CEO since 1989. He worked for most of South Africa's major newspapers as journalist for 15 years before that. He is a member of the South African Press Council appeals panel; and a trustee of literacy NGO READ. Tel +27 (0)11 506 7300, email , follow @petermann, and connect on LinkedIn.
Aki Kalliatakis
Hi PeterYou've hit the nail on the head! Some other questions...Why don't ad agencies take their fees in the form of a profit share of additional sales as a result of their work?Why don't ad agencies give you a money-back guarantee if their efforts fail to increase sales?What do you most commonly see in the lobby of most ad agencies? (Hint: it's not letters from clients heaping praise on them, but more like awards that have been given to them by... yes, you guessed it, other ad agencies!)I say you're better off spending the money on doing the stuff that makes your customers and propspects feel special enough to talk about you with their friends. After all, (all together now,) THE BEST FORM OF ADVERSTISING IS, AND ALWAYS WILL BE WORD OF MOUTH!Great post.Aki KalliatakisManaging Partner, The Leadership LaunchPadCustomer Management Company
Posted on 5 Oct 2012 12:49
Ann Druce
It is disheartening when an industry member feels the need to promote one specialty by disparaging another, instead of on its own merits.Advertising and PR are simply two of the weapons in a marketer’s arsenal. And most serious ad agencies and marketers would agree that an integrated marketing plan should be just that - with the elements selected to meet the particular objectives and target market of the product to be marketed.There might well be times when ad agencies could make more use of advertising, but where the growth of your business can hinge on half a dozen decision makers, mass communication is hardly the way to go. Just as one-on-one would be a little inappropriate for tinned beans.
Posted on 6 Oct 2012 11:21