More ugly (than good or bad) in ad agency new business

Call this a good natured rant. Early apologies for including no ad agency new business tips in what you’ll be reading today. If you need one (or five) and don’t have the RFP Response How-To tips already, send me an email. I’ll happily shoot you over a copy. 75% of the RFPs Thunderclap writes makes their rounds. So, there’s bound to be something in the deck that will help. And, it’s free.

Now, back to the rant. I saw a story in Ad Age the other day that got me thinking a bit. The story, written by the smart Rupal Parekh, was about how many in our business use the cloak of anonymity to really tear folks up.

What struck me is the amount of pure ugliness that’s out there. Sure, I do love me some douchenozzle talk. To yours truly, this is, for the most part, harmless fun. With a good dose of intelligence thrown in. But there are other sites out there that really seem to attract and bring out the very worse in our business. People that are downright hurtful and plain nasty. The site I surf the most that has this kinda thing is AgencySpy. Now, to be clear, I read it and, if they’ll have me, plan to continue. Because it’s a source of intel. And I’m sure it’s run by fine people. But is it me, or do some of the reader comments downright evil? Seem to have more than their fair share that rub me the wrong way. No doubt due to the secretive and pretty smart nature of the brand. (Pretty great idea for a site, actually. But damn.)

It happens in other places in cyberspace, too. Sadly, I’m going to screw up the details here. But I recall…within the last year seeing a site that was around some poor ad guy asking for some help because his mother was sick and in a foreign land. Money was somehow involved. And there were folks on the site that were giving him a ton of grief. For God sakes, this guy’s mother is DYING, and people are ripping him a new one. Wow.

Seeing the true negativity is disappointing. Here’s why:

  • We are in a professional service. AKA, billable. On ye olde ladder of professional services, many people consider advertising to be one of the lower rungs. This kind of thing doesn’t help. Do the other professions have such name calling and overt trash talk? I wonder. This kind of behavior lowers our rates and hurts our industry’s ability to bring in good talent.
  • EVERYONE deserves the ability to make a living. This kind of crapola impacts some poor sumbitch’s ability to pay the rent and feed their family.

What is it about our business that elicits such emotion? The easy, cliche answer is the subjective, creative nature of our work. Or that someone screwed someone else over. I think other reasons why is it really takes no formal training to be in our business and it’s hard for many to manage the gut wrenching changes taking place.

And yet, trash talking and negative use of media is a long established agency practice. I recall reading Jerry Della Femina’s great book “From Those Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Pearl Harbor” where he tells a story or two about how a planted story can hurt business.

So, any revelations here? Any suggestions to change? Nada from yours truly. This is a rant, after all. And who am I? (Though I feel a chest-bursting song coming from 24601!) Besides, Karma’s a bitch. And I gotta mortgage to pay.

Should anyone else have something to say, feel free. And thanks.