From name changes to the new 30 hour work week, ad agencies seem to be looking for new ways to shake up the traditional approach to the industry. Albeit a commendable effort, one would have to ask if it is enough. Are we just window dressing for the sake of trying to be (buzzword alert) “disruptive”?
Change for change sake
The last time advertising had an actual shake up to the way we worked was way back when Bill Bernbach placed an art director and copywriter in the same room and created the way we do things now. Since then, nothing really worthwhile has changed.
Still, the ad world is filled with aging, old boys clubs from yesteryear who are constantly under threat from an ever faster changing world. An easy way to show agility is simply to change your facade whilst keeping the old dinosaurs happily going about their business – devouring budgets and big ideas in their vast plains. It’s important to question if any of the PR articles are actually doing anything for the people who work in the agency or their clients.
The good work is happening
Many agencies are producing well-received work for their clients, which shows us that the industry is waking up to a world of equality, the destruction of gender stereotypes and impacting the world in a positive way. The "Fearless Girl" campaign, the new direction for Carl’s Junior as well as the Grey London name change, might make a difference. But Is the change happening in the real world where agency employees spend their working hours?
Live what you sell
If you preach change, you’re going to have to live it. With only a handful of examples in our local industry, transformation in ad agencies has been pretty slow at the top. I’ve seen some weathered old dogs redefining themselves to keep their increasing paycheques streaming in and talented, relevant staff left to control the creative output of studio while trying to explain new media to a confused, wrinkling ECD.
We should embrace the change, try new working methods, look at non-traditional creatives and, above all, increase diversity. Anything and everything is worth testing out. Our industry attracted us through work that pushed the boundaries. So why can’t we do the same with how we go about creating those ideas? Changing our methods will undoubtedly change our work and the perception of what advertising has become. If we want our ideas to change the world for the better, shouldn’t we change along with them?
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