Working in advertising is great. After all, we sit around all day coming up with ideas for clients, talk about movies or TV shows, watch good and bad commercials, come up with some more crazy whacky ideas, play some table tennis or playstation, talk more about movies and then go home, and rinse and repeat it all again tomorrow.
Friday’s everyone knows we all go to the pub at noon and we come back to work… well... on Monday morning. It sounds great right?
No. You see, that’s what it used to be like. So long ago that most people don’t actually remember those days! Those good old days, with endless budgets, three-to-six month turn around times to craft the work, using the best photographers, amazing directors and clients who let you do what we did best, produce quality work for a shit load of money.
Everyone was happy, clients were making good ads, agencies were making good money and consumers watched, listened and consumed. It was like a rainbow landing on your doorstep with a hundred leprechauns, complete with pots for of gold … Life was good!
OK. This is not a whine to bring back the good old bad old days of advertising, because as at the time even way back then I didn’t think it was sustainable. This is simply a discussion of the state of the advertising industry today, because I think the biggest problem is, and always has been, determining the true value of an idea.
Ideas come at the strangest moments, whether it’s at a pub, playing table tennis or in a bloody uber (that happened last week), ideas are sometimes apparently randomly generated when we least expect them, because good ad people never actually stop thinking about their clients, consciously or subconsciously, and these random moments can change a companies brand for the better - forever.
Surely that ability is worth something? Hell, yes it is! It doesn’t matter if the idea occurs walking the dog, cooking a meal or in the shower - or in the pub - great ideas are the very currency of our business.
But how do you charge for that idea? How do you value it? The fact is, an idea is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. It’s like a painting, it’s worth what someone or a group of people value it.
Actually, the art world is a good example of how value is created and perceived, and it’s generally controlled by a few individuals that are usually very rich.
Let’s look at the collectors (Brands) in the art world, they pretty much determine the value of a painting (idea). Collectors (Brands) are the economic engine that fuels the entire art world (read: advertising world). And when Collectors (Brands) become personalities (Famous brands), they then in turn make the artists they support (Agency) famous.
OK, it’s a pretty far-stretched analogy, but you get the point. Brands have the power in the world of advertising, and we need to respect that, but they also need to respect what we do for them and what makes them famous, which is ideas. In other words, they need to respect the art.
These days we’re seeing more and more average advertising. But just because you have a camera and Adobe Premiere doesn’t mean you can make a great ad. I mean, I know loads about football (soccer), but that doesn’t mean I can play in the Premier League.
Ideas are what, as an industry, we really charge for but how do you put a value on it? If people don’t really understand the value of a great creative idea then we should just pack up shop and do some “management consulting”. (It seems to be all the rage at the moment. And the metrics are to die for.)
A great idea can change a brand from nothing to something in a blink of an eye. And if you don’t value an idea then you’ll never do anything great, your brand will never be exceptional and you’ll make average advertising.
Ideas are like life-changing paintings: they’re worth what you’re willing to pay, and the more money you put to finding them, the more value they will have.
Just ask yourself, how many truly GREAT advertising or marketing ideas have you seen in the last 12 months? Ideas that have changed markets, revolutionised how we see things, moved the needle on our understanding?
If your honest answer is “precious few”, then maybe you need to stop paying for dross, and pay a bit more for a really GREAT idea. Even better, a really great CAMPAIGN. Pay a bit more, and get a whole lot more. Now there’s an original idea.