Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dance, Bear, Dance

Some of you might have seen it: the bear with the nosering and when you gave his handler a few pennies, the bear danced for a few seconds just to be transformed into an abused animal again.

A good piece by the LA Times titled "Agencies pulling stunts to win clients" reminded of this sad image.

One of my favorite quotes:

What changed? For the advertising industry, most everything. There's been a steady shift away from time-honored ad channels -- TV and radio, print publications and billboards -- to digital media. And there's a growing pack of fresh-faced agencies with unconventional attitudes and approaches that are giving established shops a run for their money.

The field is so crowded that the big agencies are going after accounts they used to scorn, and spending a lot to win them. These days, "clients' demands require more expenditure," said Don Just, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's Adcenter in Richmond, Va.

And more gimmicks. Jos Anshell, chief executive of Moses Anshell agency in Phoenix, bought dozens of summer sausages with the idea of sending them to potential clients with cards saying, "This is the last baloney you'll ever receive from us," but the meat went bad before he could dispatch them."

And an agency that seemed to stale for a youth marketing account had this idea:

"…rented a three-story house on Hermosa Beach, equipped it with funky furniture and video games, commissioned a graffiti-esque wall painting and staffed the place with employees in their 20s. Come pitch time, a chauffeur in a Hummer drove Boost Mobile executives to the beach house and they were given a tour of what {the agency} promised would be its new Boost Mobile marketing headquarters, devoted to selling the younger generation on the wireless companies’ products."

Sure, sometimes this works and you get the account. (In this case it didn't.)

Gimmicks might work initially but they portray an agency image: The image of someone who's willing to do anything for you, no matter what. Just like the teenage boys who do anything for the cheerleader, just to be pushed aside by the quarterback.

These might be desperate times but do they really call for desperate measures? Agencies and clients need mature working relationships, not dancing bears.

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