Today I walked away from a world that I love, from an agency environment that was my home for 20 years and from many talented and beloved people. I shared the news a few weeks back with close friends in the industry and everybody congratulated me. Not one person questioned my decision. Everybody expressed the urgent desire to leave the agency world as soon as humanly possible. No matter who you ask, almost everybody is ready to walk away. This “get-out-while-you-can” sentiment is prevalent.

What ’s going on?

Where do I start? Broken agency model resulting in broken agency-client relationships, outdated client structures and processes not aligned with today’s reality, the continued belief that bad products can be sold through great advertising, unrealistic goals, no innovation budgets, over delivering on pitches and under delivering on executional work due to cuts and declining budgets, politics everywhere. Too many brands trying to apply their industrial/broadcast thinking to the digital space. Not only that, as an industry we have become so obsessed with technology that we have forgotten what technology is supposed to deliver: Messages that move people.

Advertising used to be about inspiration. Inspire people to consider your brand, inspire them creatively to engage with the brand, the brand as a creative inspiration.

Inspiration has been replaced with fear. The advertising industry is filled with scared people. That fear creates a culture of land grabbing rather than collaboration. Executives asking for constant innovations from their agencies while their mid-level managers squash any innovative idea out of fear to lose their job. Every company  talks about failing fast. Not many companies live up to their own talk. The fear creates a culture of never-ending POVs, data obsession as a safety belt, revisions of PowerPoint revisions and revisions of aforementioned revisions.

Brands can be powerful change agents, develop mass movements and improve everyone’s lives. It’s a huge responsibility to be a powerful brand. It goes way beyond filling media spaces with creative executions. Way beyond optimizing technology and the pipes to transfer communications to people through programmatic buying and sophisticated targeting. We’ve fallen in love with technology rather than technology being the slave of the idea. Good advertising is about persuasion. Today’s advertising is dominated by promotion. 

We lost our way, walked away from advertising and the art of persuasion. And made a Faustian bargain with technology.

So, I decided to retrace my steps and walk back towards advertising and the art of persuasion. Rekindle my passion for the art of advertising. And leave the status quo of the current agency world that’s heading down the wrong the path behind for good.

What’s next

I’m embarking on this exciting  journey with a wonderful consulting client. I’m working on a book about the return of advertising and how we need to trace back our steps to the advertising roots. I will be looking for additional, selected consulting opportunities and speaking engagements in the near future. And I will be working with special publishers to help them align their technological prowess with the art of persuasion. Most importantly, I haven’t been that excited in a long time and I hope you will continue to follow me on this journey.

In the meantime, do big and amazing things. We need you.