Archives for posts with tag: agencies


When companies design a new product, the first thing they do is evaluate what the competition has done.

When agencies try coming up with a new campaign, idea or initiative, the first thing they do is a thorough, competitive review.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Consuming? Checking on others: their emails, tweets and Facebook updates?

When you start out the day checking what others have done, you surrendered an important opportunity to start something completely new, something nobody ever thought about.

As a marketer, you need to come up with fresh ideas to new and old problems. Obsessively observing what others have done in the past won’t get you there.

Clark Kokich, Chairman of Razorfish, speaks with Brian Morrissey, Editor in Chief at Digiday, at the Digiday Agency Summit.

Clark just released an interesting combination of book and app, aptly titled: “Do or die.” (The promotional video of his work is posted below.)

As Clark Kokich describes it, advertising’s past was about communicating emotions to change the minds of prospective customers. The future of advertising is about doing something that helps people, that matters to customers. Agencies used to be about changing perception, in the future they need to change reality.

He explains that agencies are struggling right now because they know in 5-10 years there will be a model for the future of agencies. Unfortunately, we don’t yet what the model will be. ┬áThat’s why everybody is muddling along, trying to figure it out.

My favorite quote: “You can’t apply the past formulas to a new problem.” So true.


Some agencies are still struggling to integrate digital into their offerings, developing holistic communication and prospering in the digital culture. It’s getting late in the game because integration was just a small mountain to conquer, compared to the Mt. Everest all of us are about to face:

Keeping up with the increasing speed of technology change

Our greatest challenge is simply keeping up-to-date with the technology from both the perspective of communication product delivery and media. Agencies were struggling to implement new experiences when Timeline was introduced and the new retina display for the iPad caused chaos for publishers and advertisers.

We have to acknowledge making the transition into the new world is not enough, we have to have our finger on the pulse of this dramatically changing world, filled with streams and feeds, and be able to respond to the changing requirements that technology is forcing upon you. No one wants to be left behind, drowning in the streams and no one wants to appear dated and behind the times with when they communicate digitally.

The emerging fragmentation of social media channels has just begun and adds a level of complexity to the task at hand. This doesn’t mean we should jump on the next Path bandwagon once it rolls through ad land. Successful agencies of the future will have to keep up with the technological change and being able to anticipate it, build for it, and stay ahead of it. Agencies need to constantly read and live the pulse of change, build small experiences on new platforms to experiment. test, and, possibly, scale up and down. And you thought integration was a challenge. You ain’t see nothing yet.


Your digital campaign represents your company, it’s the public face of your company. Just like your website, your store, your packaging, your employees, your phone tree (Let’s hope you have none.) Your digital campaign might be the first encounter of a prospect with your brand. Or it might be a visit with an old friend. Have you ever looked at the personality of your digital campaign?

All brands and their agencies design campaigns with best intentions. Sometimes they succeed. Often they fail and end up where they never wanted to go. I’ve been part of those and I’m not proud of my personal train wrecks. Advertising intends to motivate behavior change. Can you be motivated by an unlikeable person to change behavior? Shouldn’t we all try to be more likeable to customers?

Well, let me introduce you to a few of these people brands create every day.

The cheesy salesman

His perfume is cheap and strong, his clothes outdated and loud, and his pitch is annoying and even louder. Whenever you see him, you try to run away as fast as you can. He tries to sell and upsell anything, as long he profits from it: He doesn’t care.

That’s the digital campaign with huge “Buy” or “Click” buttons, takeovers, pop-unders, scams to make you”like” the brand: Any trick in the book is good to make you buy. Or at least to make you show some interest. That’s the least you can do to keep the cheesy salesman employed.

The creepy guy

You meet him at a party, have a brief chat with him and he believes you want to get married to him. Wherever you go, he’s there: At the gym, at work, in your home. He continues to ask the same question: “Why don’t we close the deal?” He’s the guy that makes you feel uncomfortable, a Big Brother always watching. If you could, you would punch him in the face but he might take that as a sign that you want to close the deal.

As a digital campaign, these are the re-targeting slaves. Yes, I showed interest in your airline 1 week ago but that doesn’t mean you need to remind me on every page I visit, thanks to your massive ad network/retargeting buy. A friend might have sent me a link to your offer, I checked it out and didn’t care. Make me care even less by retargeting me 5,012 times. Maybe it works at the 5,013th impression. Who knows?

Paris Hilton

Ok, she looks good. But, ask her what time it is and she needs an assistant because her brain is permanently turned off. Ask her to do anything and she’ll answer with a frozen smile. She’s stupid, she can’t do anything, the world adored her at one point. Oh, did I mention she’s pretty?

As a digital marketing campaign, that’s the flashturbation campaign. So much Rich Media, you can pay the global debt with it. Too bad it doesn’t work on all devices, crashes your computer and serves no conversion purpose. Oh, did I mention it looks pretty?

The cheerleader

Who doesn’t love cheerleaders? Your team sucks, no one in the stands, it’s raining, they ran out of beer and the cheerleader is still smiling, yelling: Go team. They don’t understand why you don’t like their team, why you don’t share the same level of enthusiasm. No matter, in their mind the own team will always be the best. Even though they haven’t won a game in 10 years.

As a digital campaign, this is the campaign that doesn’t get why you wouldn’t “like” their Facebook page even though there’s no reason for you to like it. No value proposition. Why wouldn’t you follow a Twitter stream brimming with promotional messages? Why do you need motivation to change your behavior? Isn’t our presence ┬ámotivation enough?

The cheapskate

He’s the guy occupying the parking lot of Best Buy the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. He’s the guy that occupies the coffee shop for hours with an order of a miniature coffee. He’s the guy sitting next to toilet, the guy that gets the worst seat in the bar. He doesn’t care. As long as it’s cheap, he’s happy.

The digital campaign you don’t see. Cheap inventory equals invisibility. Banner ads below the fold on sites you don’t dare visiting because they look like malware-infested 1990 designs. The cheapskate loves the cheesy sales guy on the publisher site. It’s a mutual feeling: the sales guy sells garbage and the cheapskate sifts through it, filled with happiness.


Amy Winehouse died last week.

She was an amazing talent. I’ve seen her once in concert and was just blown away by her stage presence and that voice. Oh, that voice.

Sadly, most people will remember her for the drug escapades. For the tortured soul she was. In the age of YouTube, we tend to focus on the negative stuff. On the worst performance.

That happens to many performers. More people know about Kurt Cobain’s demise than his brilliant gift as an artist. Richard Burton, a gifted actor, had a part in Exorcist II. (I hope you didn’t see it.) Buster Keaton performed in Beach Blanket Bingo (!!!!!!!!!) in 1965.

What’s true of actors is true of companies. People don’t just look at your best work, the project you put your heart and soul in. They make a judgement about you based on everything you do and everything you’ve done. (Google never forgets!)

That applies to:

  • Brands with great commercials but horrendous brand experience.
  • Agencies that showcase their best work from small clients while conveniently forgetting about the work they do for clients who pay the bills.
  • Brands with a sophisticated social presence and a phone tree taking you 15 minutes to get to the right person.

In the end, you will be judged by the worst piece of work you ever created. It’s out there for everybody to see. It’s not about what you did 10 years ago, it’s about what you’re doing right now.

Just like any actor in a C-movie, you will be judged by your worst work.

Plan for it.