Outside in? Or Inside out?

Way back when (at the start of my career) I worked for Wunderman, or HTW as it was known then.

It was then that I first heard about Jeremy Bullmore.  Next to Lester Wunderman and Steve Harrison he was somewhat of a god within those 4 walls.

Since then I’ve fleetingly gone back to see what Jeremy had written and I did that last week and just got a ream of stuff.

One of the articles that struck a chord with me was this one.

In it he makes the distinction between those interior designers who are concerned with being seen as the heroes and those whose concern is to make their clients the hero.

He uses that analogy to talk about branding, but it’s very easy to also see the similarities with advertising. You have the agencies who seek nothing but self-gratification with awards.  Their concern it to be extremely knowledgeable about the latest technology, the latest media and the latest idea – all with the aim of getting a reaction that says “how cool are you?’.

On the other hand, there are those who seek to understand and to change the business.  Now these are harder to come by (though they will tell you otherwise).  These agencies had their heyday in the (now dubbed) Mad Men era.

Why the second are now few and far between (I think) is a result of a change in the relationship between agencies and clients which has come about because of two factors:

  • Agencies are more predatory – agencies are now more ruthless about chasing the money and self-promotion. As they are no longer paid in relation to the business change they affect, the results matter not, but the perceived creativity does.  And the investment into clients is also reduced.  All of which the leads to (or is compounded by)
  • Clients are less trusting – no longer do agencies truly have a full view of a client’s business, not are they often given the remit to change it.  There are now clear boundaries as to what agencies are there to do – i.e. solve a communications challenge. And also the value they put on it has changed –   Lee Clow recently commented on this

So which are you?  Or, which do you want to be?

By the way, you can read a whole lot more of Jeremy’s stuff here.

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