Two things happened in the ad industry in the last few months that would have made David Ogilvy cringe in his grave.
First, an ad agency was stripped of its honours and shamed for entering fake work into an awards show. Second, after an 8-year long relationship, a certain agency was informed - over email - of the client's intention to put the business out to pitch.
David Ogilvy was born in 1911. At the time, the advertising souls of this era were still floating around in a cosmic bubble, contemplating making a grand entrance a couple of decades later. So of what importance then, is the opinion of this old-world gentleman? I believe that in a time when our industry is consumed with the challenges and wonders of the digital age, doing good for humanity and fulfilling our rock-star dreams, we should also be consumed with the fact that while nobody was looking, respect, trust and good old common sense started walking out the door.
As someone from the agency side, I have always feared that the very nature of the agency-client relationship is flawed - a relationship that has set us on unequal footing and built master-slave mentalities and battered-wife syndromes.
While no relationship is a one-way street, I worry that ours is more strained than it has ever been. Now would be a good time to summon the spirit of the Father of Advertising. Here are five things Ogilvy said that I would like to share with all clients:
"Be candid, and encourage candor"
David Ogilvy would want us to stop hiding behind debriefs and emails and start having more honest conversations. Tell us what works for you, what doesn't and before your eyes start roaming, talk to us and give us the chance to show you that we actually care about your business as much as you do. If it still doesn't work out, don't break up with us over email.
"Why keep a dog and bark yourself?"
Ogilvy recommended that clients should not compete with their agencies in the creative area. Trust that most of us went to ad school. Trust us to do creativity, to write copy and to design. No one wants their copy dictated to them.
We should ban tracked changes on word documents and scribbling on layouts. Give us your opinion, criticise and interrogate the work but allow us to do what we love doing.
"Don't haggle with your agency"
Sometimes ad agencies behave like a kid who has a hundred bucks and finds himself in front of a slot machine. But sometimes we feel like the kid who has to score goals in Bata Toughees. Maybe it's time to loosen the iron-grip on the purses. Spend the right money at the right time with the right people and you will see the results.
"Clients get the advertising they deserve"
A great idea is chosen by you. When you are brave you get brave work. No doubt, every great idea travels a scary journey accompanied by a manic, feverish sweat. We should not be afraid of this fever because it subsides once the work survives intact. If you set your standards high, you allow us to improve your bottom line and to do great work for you.
"Loosen their tongues"
I think that Ogilvy meant that we should drink Tequila. We should also have lunch some time. Maybe play a round of golf too. We compress time so drastically these days that we forget that relationships are built alongside the work, the briefs and the meetings.
Get to know the people that work on your business and let us get to know you so that we might each catch a glimpse of the passion and commitment we share.
I hope that we can wake up in 2014 with a more evolved approach to the agency-client relationship. On both sides, I hope that we can behave with more integrity, build trust again and pat each other on the backs without the simultaneous urge to stab each other.
I hope that we can find new meaning in our roles. If the face of advertising has changed and now resembles a bearded, plaid-wearing guy with an enormous heart, doesn't it make sense that we both rock up to work as partners, rather than as 'Agency' and 'Client'? Let us make 2014 the year that all others are compared to and let us make David Ogilvy, proud.
Source: "Confession of an Advertising Man" by David Ogilvy
I started my advertising career at Ogilvy, Johannesburg in 2001. It was here that I learnt a few things about 360-degree brand stewardship, copywriting and foosball. In 2005, after a brief sojourn, I returned to advertising with the King James Group. In 2007, I joined Black River FC. It is here that I was made Creative Director. In November 2012, I became a Native and joined the conceptual team as Creative Director.
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Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense , who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: - Knowing when to come in out of the rain; - Why the early bird gets the worm; - Life isn't always fair; - and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place including the right to flog a ticket to a football match at cost price. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights I Want It Now Someone Else Is To Blame I'm A Victim
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.