Why Ad Agencies Struggle With Social Media
Why Advertising Agencies Struggle With Social Media
Why Advertising Agencies Struggle With Social Media

The day an advertising agency’s creatives (art directors and copywriters) truly “get” social media and how to communicate ideas through social channels, is the day said agency becomes a relevant player in the new marketing landscape. Trouble is, in my experiences, advertising creatives are often solitary, anti-social types, content to focus on their art and craft even at the expense of changing with it.

Certainly I don’t infer that all creatives are this way. Many have made the transition from “working on my book” to creating compelling communications. Many more have gravitated from nice print and outdoor pieces to providing creative direction for simpler methods of transmitting messages, like sales letters, Pay-Per-Click ad copy or even blog posts.

Get Creative!
Image by JD Hancock via Flickr

But the transition of the advertising creative to be able to include compelling social activations in their traditional communications concepts has not been an easy one for many. When you think about it, the media creatives typically deal with are known and, thus, uncomplicated. We understand that a billboard is stationary, can’t be too dynamic or distracting to the audience (lest it causes accidents) and must communicate a compelling, memorable message in art and copy that takes less than 10 seconds to comprehend.

Conversely, a piece of content you would provide to your audience on Facebook can be more complex in language, include dynamic or multi-media elements, but is also rather unpredictable in that the audience can respond to it. In fact, good creative execution on Facebook compels the audience to do so.

Now the creative concept must truly live outside a prescribed box of parameters. If the content is good enough, the audience will demand more and fast. Reactions or comments on the content may open new avenues to explore in conversation with your audience.

Facebook content potentially has a never-ending life of its own. A billboard gets taken down after a while because everyone who will see it, has.

The reason creative executions of social media campaigns work, like the Old Spice response commercials, is because the creative team took their thinking outside the confines of a set of parameters. The elements of size and duration are erased, even flipped to have the creative expectation ever-present and always changing.

In years past, an advertising campaign may evolve and have a life of its own, but there are typically weeks, even months in between the first set of commercials or placements and the next iteration that continues to tell the story.

In social media the time to press for phase two is often minutes.

Since first trying to communicate the importance and dynamics of the social web to the wonderful creative teams I worked with at Doe-Anderson to the custom training and education sessions I do with advertising agencies and PR firms today, I’ve been searching for that switch to flip and illustrate what can make a traditional creative understand how to approach social media marketing successfully. I haven’t found it yet and it will likely take collaborating with a creative to really nail something relevant.

But I’m understanding more and more that the roadblock has less to do with the personality of the art director or copywriter in question and more with the space and time differences in digital and social versus traditional executions.

Your ideas? How can we facilitate understanding and advancement within the traditional agency environment to help our creatives produce compelling communications that are persuasive, but also social? What are your agency creatives doing that compels you in this space? As a creative, what differences in approach do you find helpful in producing communications that work online?

Your thoughts will help shape our understanding of the conversation and contribute to a better environment for us all. the comments, then, are yours.

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About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at JasonFalls.com.
  • Marla

    People who work in advertising need to get their heads out of their asses. They’ve single handedly destroyed art and illustration in advertising – the new Star Wars poster, for example, is a great example. Photomanipulation, when all the other movies were paintings. Ironic, it’s been sold to Disney, a company associated with animation, and they’ve gone and used a mash up of photos using software like photoshop. Better stuff is being made by amateurs on the Deviant Art website!!

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  • robert daze

    Today social media marketing is everything. Later or sooner , it will be occupying a key positions for social , economic and in every field at its own way.However thanks for such a nice post.

  • Mp09digital

    yeahhh aad agencies strugling with social media………..

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  • I believe that in the past agencies only had oflline marketing to deal with as suppose to online. Online is vastly different in the sense that it is best used for selling goods and works best in that manner. So agencies sell services not goods.
    The mere fact that the agency has to get the candidate to pick up the phone and dial tends to be a stretch in the customers mind when in reality it is not. Pitty there will not be someone to encourage the customer to pick up and call. Therefore it is much easier for the customer to just postpone it till later, and by then they might change

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  • Rclark

    I recently began a list of ad agencies on tweetdeck. I was amazed at the lack of social media presence, use, and understanding. Digging in, I came to the conclusion the stereotypical ad agency mind set is not peer-to-peer. Until Ad agencies understand they are not talking at the audience, but with the audience – they will not be competent with social networks.

  • Rclark

    I recently began a list of ad agencies on tweetdeck. I was amazed at the lack of social media presence, use, and understanding. Digging in, I came to the conclusion the stereotypical ad agency mind set is not peer-to-peer. Until Ad agencies understand they are not talking at the audience, but with the audience – they will not be competent with social networks.

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  • Hi Jason..
    Firstly, a very insightful post here!! In my opinion advertising creatives and social media strategists do have certain things that tie them. One, is the obvious purpose to put the message across to the TG. Ad copywriters do find it a tad different to promote brands online on social media rather than boards and print ads. But I wouldn't say its difficult. I feel if they do warm up to social media and be active on these platforms on a consistent basis, the results will be positive. After all, social media too is about brand reputation and client relationship, as is advertising.

  • The reason ad agencies don't take social media marketing seriously, is that it doesn't work.

    Compared to the effectiveness of TV and newspaper/magazine advertising, online advertising is absolutely nowhere at the moment – the last relevant stat I saw was that online banners had less than 2% of the effectiveness of…streetpole ads.

    I know social media types think Facebook etc are absolutely fantastic, but they're blinkered, they're living in a dream world. Online advertising is very much the baby of the advertising world. It's got a long way to go before it even starts to approach the sophistication of TV and print, perhaps the author should wake up to reality (as represented by bottom line sales), and try to learn something from those media.

    • You're confusing two different areas, Geoff. Online advertising has nothing

      to do with social media. Social media (blogs, networking, etc.) doesn't have

      years of statistics and metrics behind it yet, but you're citing percentage

      click thrus on banner ads … not the same thing at all.

      Look at the case studies out there (a few on this blog) of companies who

      invest some time and attention through social channels to foster

      relationships with customers. The returns are 10-fold or more than that of

      traditional advertising channels in some cases. Online banner ads? I agree

      … mostly worthless.

      But please don't lump social media marketing in with online advertising.

      Apples and oranges. Social media marketing does work.

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  • Internet_Marketing_Agency

    One of the important aspects of managing and accepting social media is that it comes with a great responsibility. Managing social media is not as easy as it sounds initially, every piece of information published by a brand online helps in creating or diminishing the brand image.
    However, with time the agencies will learn to adapt and change their ways accordingly, they have little or no choice as it is!

  • Hi Jason,

    I think I'll probably end up writing a blog post because this is a very important topic to me, but I'll say this – in the B2B world where I live and work, a campaign like the Old Spice one simply would not work in a lot of cases. We are talking about very different kinds of selling dynamics, where you are dealing with dealer or distributor networks rather than end-users. This means that a Facebook page or a blog gets diluted in terms of impact – the content would need to talk to the distributors who would buy but not use the topic.

    Now what you could do is create a campaign that would appeal to end-users for pull in the market, but then you run the risk of ticking off your sales network.

    I can't really speak to the b2c market as we don't do a lot of work in that space, but I would wager there are complexities that are holding some companies back from engaging, or having their agency engage in Social Media activities.

    What I really wish is that there wasn't such a preponderance of comments and thoughts like the one “WildWildEast” verbalized here in the comments – I know that a lot of agencies aren't good, but too often people paint with a broad brush and say all agencies are daft – and that drives me nuts :)

  • Hi Jason,

    I think I'll probably end up writing a blog post because this is a very important topic to me, but I'll say this – in the B2B world where I live and work, a campaign like the Old Spice one simply would not work in a lot of cases. We are talking about very different kinds of selling dynamics, where you are dealing with dealer or distributor networks rather than end-users. This means that a Facebook page or a blog gets diluted in terms of impact – the content would need to talk to the distributors who would buy but not use the topic.

    Now what you could do is create a campaign that would appeal to end-users for pull in the market, but then you run the risk of ticking off your sales network.

    I can't really speak to the b2c market as we don't do a lot of work in that space, but I would wager there are complexities that are holding some companies back from engaging, or having their agency engage in Social Media activities.

    What I really wish is that there wasn't such a preponderance of comments and thoughts like the one “WildWildEast” verbalized here in the comments – I know that a lot of agencies aren't good, but too often people paint with a broad brush and say all agencies are daft – and that drives me nuts :)

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  • Agencies have trouble with social media because there is a response mechanism, aside from winning industry award shows – consumer response. Agencies are not accustomed to the customer speaking. :D

  • This conversation reminds me exactly of the type of conversation that happenend in/around ad agencies when “desktop publishing” was just beginning to creep into the picture in the early 90s. I remember a local ad agency who finally adopted it had a different department for it, and charged a lower rate for it since the results were clearly “inferior.” Nowadays hardly anyone can imagine producing graphic design withOUT a computer, and yet the inflection point is hard to define. I think social media is exactly the same way. It was exciting to be in the vanguard of this movement, when relatively few people understood it. Over the last 2-3 years there has been a sea-change in awareness where people no longer do a long, drawn-out PAUSE before they say the word twitter in a sentence. It just IS, already as pervasive as oxygen in the air.

  • My experience has been that agencies are often working hard to create something that is over the top creative but they don't focus enough on delivering something creative with a clear strategy to convert the excitement to new leads or new business. For example, last year I knew about the Nokia crane hanging over London because of a connection to the agency running it…but there was very little hype about it. It probably cost Nokia a pretty penny but there was very little to generate interest, to get people to want to participate and to drive home why you would want to use a Nokia device. It kind of goes back to the stories about Duracell and Energizer TV commercials and people not remembering which campaign was for which brand….many people associated the bunny with batteries…but which brand? I think its kind of odd how I rarely see POS materials that remind me/customers of cool online/social media promotions. Old Spice has never caught my eye while walking down the aisles…but I can talk a lot about the campaign.

  • Part of the challenge for Agencies is the ability to “execute” in real time digital space. The social landscape requires a “person” to act and respond quickly to conversations. This requires that the person executing on digital communication be closely tied to the “persona” of the brand. There isn't time to make decisions by committee, or banter back and forth between client and agency personnel. The person/persona must understand the audience, the brand, and be trusted to act instantly. This is probably best handled internally and not by an agency.

    I think the real function of the Agency in social media is to research and develop strategic campaigns that create the “conditions” for the type of conversations brands want to have.

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  • Sgosselin

    Well, agency creatives have finally stopped rolling their eyes over social media. But for many, it's still considered a threat. And let's face it, for clients that slash their budgets so they can focus on “free” social media, it is a threat.

    Thankfully, I think most companies are starting to understand that video didn't kill the radio star, and social media is not going to kill traditional advertising. Traditional ads still pull great results. But people are starting to have expectations of being able to interact with and participate in the campaigns. And that's a really different thing than ever before. And a great opportunity for PR, which is better positioned to inherently “get” these kind of sustained stories and interactions. This reminds me a lot of the supposed “revolution” of “integrated” agencies back in the 80s. It never worked as billed, in my opinion. Whichever department got the most money–ie. advertising–was always driving the bus. I think Social Media has the potential to break down these barriers for good, as it can bleed thoroughly into the pr, advertising and direct marketing silos. In other words, social media may well be the thing that makes all the departments play nice. At least, this is my optimistic hope. I think it will just take some time.

  • Many times the creative is not the one within the agency that isn't adapting well. For many agencies, top management hasn't yet grasped the reach and effectiveness that social media offers, and hasn't made a concerted effort to embrace it as a result. This leads to indifferent direction to their creatives, or worse, outright resistance to adopting the creative concepts that lean too heavily in the social direction.

    As I see it, if agencies want to be successful rather than just survive, they'll need to adapt to the changing communication needs and mediums of both the industry and their clients. This requires an open and flexible mindset, and the vision to see that education – theirs, their staff, their clients – and integration of the “new” with the “old” way of doing things is ultimately the key to their continued success.

  • amberpagewrites

    I am one of those advertising creatives who does, indeed, “get” social media. Many of us do. From my perspective, there are two big reasons not addressed here that agencies are behind the social media curve:

    1. Clients (particularly smaller, regional clients) still like creative executions that they can see, point to, brag about to their friends. They understand billboards and feel good when they can see their TV commercial during the 11 o'clock news (also a dying breed, but that's another story). Social media? Is a strange and scary beast, and they don't know what to do with it quite yet.

    2. Account people don't want to make clients uncomfortable. It's their job, after all, to keep them happy and feeling secure – which means playing it safe. So when a creative comes to them with a great idea for a social media campaign, they veto it because they don't know how to sell it without making said client very nervous.

    So, you can't really blame the creatives. Rather, it's the agency culture as a whole.

    • Rcalvanico

      Hey There: If your account-management colleagues veto ideas because they don't know how to sell them, your system is broken. Account people should absolutely be knowledgeable in SM, but creative and account teams should work closely enough (on strategy and concepting) to prevent problems like the one you suggest.

      You, however, might want to take broader view of what an account person's “job” is. The best account people lead clients into new areas by learning their business and challenging their positions. A client should be nervous if their account team is re-active, not proactive.

  • I feel that the ad agency's job is to build a brand through traditional campaigns via TV, print, large outdoor, radio, etc. whereas social media is a brilliant opportunity for the agency to broaden the conversation with buyers and offer a more intimate look into brands as a whole.

  • Hey Jason,

    There is some truth to what you say about creatives, which is why many agencies will have to add different staff in the long run. However, there is something to be said for the anti-social divergent thinking creative who doesn't want to be a cheerleader.

    They can easily co-exist with an extended team, helping to keep the communication engaging instead of letting it fall into a patent of status quo like many in social media have done. Integration is the key, not making the choice between one and another.

    Of course, I think you know I'm one of those creatives. I only bring it up because we can learn to be more social too. For me, it was adding just a little bit of teaching to my schedule. That is one skill set that demands more social prowess.


  • annieh

    I am the face of a creative at an ad agency, bet you didn't didn't know that. There are many more of us in creative agencies then you may realize, and we quietly know each other. While some marketers continue to classify roles as “advertising” or “PR” or “social media,” we've been steadily working within teams of art directors and copywriters, as a hybrid who does both, and lends strategic thinking and PR know-how to our creative. We may not be the people penning columns in ad age or blogging daily (we don't have the time!) – but we do exist at almost all of the top ad agencies in the US and beyond.

  • Internet Marketing Agency

    Interesting read! The way businesses operate is changing and so the advertising agencies need to find a way to evolve and make amendments soon!!

  • Patrick Murphy

    but how long before they can adapt? Do they not follow the revenue? If so then maybe the there is no point in them adapting

  • Helen

    I agree with so many points… Ideally have the process done internally, Hire a person to drive it… but I know that large brands want intergration on campaigns so do go to agencies for this….Another block agencies have in my opnion is, when I came to London I looked to work as part of a creative team as a Social Media person (never sure what to term myself) but agencies always want someone from an agency or client service position, they seem to exclude the the self taught with a real love of “product”… .. they want creative but they seem to play safe!

  • Very good article, Jason. I made the same experiences. I was working in Switzerlands biggest Advertising Company. First as Art Director Online, then as Creative Director. I had to give up – there was no way to convince them of digital campaigns and social media. Every new project the process was the same tedious and boring. No step forward. Walking with out moving. So I started my own company. Doing digital campaigns and social media now. In every project. Everyday and for the next years.

  • If you think ad agencies are struggling with Social Media, try your PR firm. Even worse.

  • Interesting post at the same time very useful especially for those working in advertising. Maybe for now, the best way to incorporate both is to integrate their services also in Social Networking sites. Make something for billboards or TV that will be viral on the internet as well.

  • Jason, this is an exceptionally insightful post. I can only add the following points:

    The ability of creatives to expand their horizons will be a function of how well they interact with other agency departments. For example, Media — social media is a process that any creative would do well to understand. See here: http://admajoremblog.blogspot….

    Next, all ad agency folk must understand that social media is two-way. PR agencies understand this very well: http://admajoremblog.blogspot….

    Last, somewhat related point, and my only criticism of what you wrote: Can we stop saying “media agnostic”? http://admajoremblog.blogspot….

  • Jason,

    It seems to me that another way to communicate what you're saying is to talk about alignment. By aligning “social media” within an organization and ensuring that it's included as part of a comprehensive marketing approach for a client, it (social media) isn't compartmentalized as a bolt on to creative but integrated in to the creative process.


    • Agreed, Ken. But I still think the creatives making that transition to understanding social and how to build and design for it … that will help bridge that gap.

  • Sometimes its coz the agencies time management is too ad hoc or fragmented to do it properly…

  • Buzzjive

    Ad agencies don't use social media because once the brand page is done, and maybe the spokesman (Progressive's Flo), Character (Tony the tiger) or Celebrity Character (Priceline Negotiator) page is done, there's not much else to do.

    Video (preroll) is still considered a massive intrusion. Nobody clicks on the ads on the side of the page. Applications aren't really trusted, except for zynga games and a few others.

    This is coming from a creative who's made facebook applications, text ads and brand pages.

    Sure, lots of TV ads are shared on social media, but if you want to get in on THAT action, you don't have to be a leading thinker, educator, speaker and consultant in the world of social media marketing to know that all a client needs to do is approve awesome TV that the general populace will deem original and entertaining.

    Take it from this creative: everything else is just buzzword-pushing nonsense.

    • Ever thought about actually being the brains behind the communications in a social campaign? Like creatives driving community management and engagement? THATs what I'm talking about.

      “There's not much else to do” implies you don't see social as it is. For once the various pages are done, the communications begins. My two cents.

  • New School

    There are good points here but you are missing the root cause.

    The problems are:
    1. The majority of creative directors and hiring managers think Social Media is beneath them. 2. Clients are still hesitant to pull the trigger on really groundbreaking integrated ideas.

    Every agency and client likes to talk about integration until the cows come home. But actions speak louder than words. Actions, as in what work gets produced, how budgets are allotted, who gets hired, who gets let go, and who gets promoted. And what actions reveal is that the dinosaurs still roam the land.

    There are many strong exceptions, but they are exceptions. Ultimately, ad agencies & clients will continue to struggle to “get it” until old-school top managers either retire or are replaced.

    • Can't say I really disagree with you, there.

  • The more I work in Social Media, the more I wonder why any company would entrust the management of such an intimate relationship to someone else. Even if you hire the 'best of the best' agency out there, they are still not you.

    I think that of all the functions of a company, Social Media is likely going to be the one that absolutely cannot be farmed out in the (near) future. You need to do it yourself, and you need to get good at it really fast.

    If I want to talk to a company that I either really like or really dislike, I sure don't want to talk to a disconnected third-party. I want to go right to the company itself.

    • There's ideal and then there's real. And most times the two don't meet. Good point, though Jonathan.

    • Amen Bro!

  • Der Senator

    Truth in all of this. But the Old Spice example neglects to mention that the buzz, engagement, what have you were caused by that good old reliable medium called broadcast television. The social media executions were a brilliant extension of the original idea — but an extension. Thor's hammer still works if you know how to swing it.

    • fitzternet

      Great point. Old Spice not only had the help of broadcast television, but a built-in audience of 18-34 year old fans of the Tim and Eric show – a TV show with a rabid following. As soon as I heard they were doing the Old Spice spots, I knew the spots would go viral.

      If Tim and Eric never had a TV show and the spots weren't run during high profile TV broadcasts (NFL games, etc.), those spots would still be hilarious – but would they have had any impact at all?

    • I would argue the Old Spice extensions would have worked and been “viral” even if the TV campaign hadn't have been a known entity. Granted, it wouldn't have caught on as fast or been quite as widespread, but the brand's “character” responding in near real time was compelling.

  • I think marketers are increasingly disappointed that our hard work and creativity is proving to be only a cog in the wheel of drivers that influence purchase or other activations of intended behavior rather than the sole or majority of influence on anticipated outcomes.

    It is our job to understand that we are better served to provide the direction, insights, or stories on which our audiences can react, share or advocate the messages and missions we marketers create. It seems antithetical, but ultimately it seems we in the creative industry are more of the catalysts and curators than the true creators: those that consume and share on our behalf.

    As we've evolved from a mindset of 'media mix' and linear decision-making processes to more interconnected advocacy and socially-lubricated interactions, our output and outposts must accommodate these behaviors and expectations as well. To me, creating with this sort flexibility and fluidity in mind is the true calling of a CD or agency these days.

  • I think it really just comes down to three pieces of agency DNA that conflict with social media DNA:

    – Agencies love passive revenue. Agencies make money by creating content and then paying media outlets to repeat it again and again and again. The more it's repeated, the more revenue they generate. Social media required active involvement (and a different revenue model).

    – Agencies are Shakespearean. They love to hold the skull and deliver soliloquies. Social media requires dialogue and audience evolvement.

    – Agencies love control. Agencies love to create brands and then play brand cop slapping the hands of anyone or anything that veers off brand. Social media teaches us a tough lesson: You may control your branding, but your customers, prospects and public control your brand.


    • Buzzjive

      Please. You talk about “dialogue and audience evolvement” (whatever that is, I'm sure you have a book or speech that's ready to let me know) well, I'm a highly paid creative who's spent time crafting branded tweets and “content for the facebook page” and I'm here to tell you, nobody cares.

      Truth: nobody's cracked the social nut. Why? There's no sell inside. And that's that.

      • Hi @buzzjive, I think we need to talk. People care but here is a freebie for you, get rid of the LEGAL departments and make your clients understand that they need to accept and tolerate some risk.

        Btw I am serious about the talking let's connect @PartenR and we see where it leads.


      • The audience cares and is involved if you have something to talk about. Most times, it's not the brand. (Means it probably doesn't enter the creative mindset. At least in my experience.)

    • Awesome comment Charlie. the truth is that Agencies love that 8digit contract signed…and then see 9digit figures being generated. Problem is that SM is taking that away from conventional Agencies. You definitely nailed it. But, you see, conventional agencies are the ones that discredit new Social Media companies for the past 3-4 years because they are here to take a chunk out of those large digit contracts.

      So now the OLD inexperienced agency is playing catchup to understand something that the NEW SM companies such as yours and mine understood.

      I feel we all need to work together however…we are all on the same team and have 1 common goal: Treat our Customer With the respect they deserve and serve them well.




    • fitzternet

      Yup… You got it. Social media isn't about broadcasting your message to the masses. There is far more interaction – whether it be a “conversation” on a Facebook page or “listening” to customer comments on Twitter.

      Reminds me of the old governor in “O Brother, Where Art Thou”:

      “We aint one-at-a-timin’ here, we’re mass communicatin’!” – Pappy O'Daniel

    • Well said, sir.

  • I'm a tad disappointed by the title.

    While you qualify your post at the beginning, a lot of us (myself included) find it easier to use absolutes. As with any marketing discipline (e.g. advertising, PR, marketing, etc.) there are those that understand the medium and play nicely in social (or email or SEO), and those that do not. For example, the smartest (i.e. best, not intelligence) copywriters I know are using social (Twitter, blogging, Quora) to both make a name for themselves and to further expand their writing chops.

    In my experience with the broad category of creatives is actually the opposite, they are media agnostic. The big idea should flow through outdoor just as easily as Facebook and paid search, otherwise it's not a very smart idea to begin with. But, again, our personal experiences may differ.

    Appreciate the post, as well as the forum to challenge the original premise.


    Creatives, broadly, should be fully aware previous media has changed.

    • I welcome the push back. My blog is meant to stir the pot and push the thinking. Sometimes that means I take the blunt end of the instrument in responses.

      Generalizations and stereotypes are never 100 percent healthy to espouse, but they don't exist without reason. I've only run into a handful of “media agnostic” creatives over the years. Most claim to be or can be if they try, but are stuck on one or two mediums because of the types of clients their agencies work with or what they're agency is known for. It's not their fault, per say, just the result of the environment they are in.

      True, there are some good ones out there. I just think we're not yet to the point where they are the rule, rather than the exception. Hopefully discussions like this will help us get there.

  • Annie Laberge


    I must admit that some creatives that I have met 'anti-social media' (ok not all, but many of them). I am a firm believer of social media and I find it so bad to see that they don't want to 'think outside the box'. My definition of a creative is someone who can adapt to any creative situation. Of course, it takes some time to initiate ourselves to the concept, but still it so positively challenging that they should grab the opportunities by the horn and let their imagination go wild!!!

    Of course I suggest some intense social media education. The agency should jump in and train them. Send them to conferences and so on. If the agency doesn't believe in it, it will be hard for the employees to adapt to a social media mindset.

    Of course, in my mind it shouldn't only be the creatives. Everyone in the agency should be initiated to the concept. Obviously, the client also needs to be educated, so if their agency believes in it will help.

    There you go!

    • Well said, Annie. I'm a firm believer in education and collaboration within the agency to get everyone on board. Thanks for swingin' by.

  • Great thoughts, but I think you missed part of it. Agencies don't get social because it doesn't fit into their current business model. Agencies get budgets to create media and then money to purchase spots to place that media. Essentially agencies set it and forget it. Agencies only go back to their media campaigns when the client has new budgets. Then if the creative worked, they respond with similar messaging in a new veneer. This model doesn't work in social media.

    In social media and other things that happen online you have to actively manage a campaign, because they are so dynamic, and in running social media and other online campaigns you can have dramatic influence on the campaign's outcome in real time (partly because you have the money or time to respond and reengage the consumer). Because agencies are paid in the way they are, they can't be positioned to actively monitor or actively run the campaign. Agencies that work on a retainer (or a monthly contract) are better positioned to do this. Until agencies change their business model (and clients are willing to buy into that business model) things won't change. I agree with Rene customers don't want to be talked too (they want a dialogue), and because of this marketing is harder, but has a lot more potential. The business model must change to accomodate this change in the consumer.

    • Well said, Tim. Love the explanation here. And you're not wrong.

  • Parissa Behnia

    Interesting read… Especially juxtaposed with this piece I read in Ad Age about what agencies can teach us that contains no small amount of arrogance: http://adage.com/smallagency/p…. There's clearly a need for dialogue that resonates with everyone: the agencies, the brand managers and the consumers.

    • Thanks for sharing the link. That's pretty condescending, though I don't believe he intended it to come across that way.

  • Interesting post, analysis and comment from Mike. Mike's right. Customers dont want to be talked at anymore. The creative challenge now would appear to be to create a proposition that has personality (stickiness and relevance), legs (the ability to be shared and run on its own) and timeliness (has a capacity to endure). Creatively minded individuals and teams that can execute campaigns that hit these buttons stand the best chance of success. Social media works because people stumble across interesting content, want to be associated with it and choose to share and interact with it.

    • Good thoughts, Rene. I like that explanation a lot.

  • Certainly agree with your assessment, with the exception of the generalizations of creative types. :-)

    The biggest change that needs to be made is the approach of working toward a *single point in time* when creatives have the opportunity to hook an audience. Whereas previously, creatives were looking for the home run creative execution, (imagine that pressure, you can understand where the image of the moody, withdrawn, black turtleneck wearing CD came from) now they can blast out singles all day long, with the occasional homer (like Old Spice) and the people ithe stands are still entertained.

    • Nice analogy, Mike. I like the singles vs. home run, though I think we need to incorporate being able to stop between bases and chat with folks. Heh.


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