Knowledge +/or creation

The title of this article just caught my eye – “Agencies Should Be Defined by What They Know, Not What They Make“. It speaks to the way agencies are judged and, thus, how they operate, staff up and act. If an agency is set up and motivated by the need to produce something in a response to a client approach – that’s what they’ll recommend. If you have 10 people sitting out the back waiting to code up some PHP, there’s a good chance that the recommendation will be stacked with PHP. And the old chestnut, if you believe that your prospective clients need to see awards on your shelf then you will recommend a solution that wins those awards (and not always the effectiveness statues). I’ve always thought that the strategy and advice portion of the response to a problem should be separate to the fulfillment of the advice. How else do you ensure objectivity?

Of course the other side of this whether clients can see the value of this advice before it turns into something tangible. In my experience, many can, because they can see its relative neutrality. It’s a little like having a financial adviser that doesn’t take commissions. I wouldn’t have thought that any of this was rocket surgery but I can still hear the voice of the chairman of a Melbourne-based Ad icon telling me “You can’t charge for planning!”. I suppose if you see the creation of advertising as the answer to every business problem, that’s true…

Anyhow, the article at Ad Age focuses on different aspects of how agencies should operate to survive and even thrive – collaboration, social science, conversation etc. But I think he hits of the nail on the head with:

My conviction is that advertising agencies should become a community full of intellectually curious people.

Nice. Let’s get curious.

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