Friday, September 11, 2009

Is "DIY" the end of the agency?

This is the question asked by Brand Republic, with the conclusion: "it might be time to start coming up with some reasons for clients as to why they shouldn't turn their marketing problems over to the hive mind to solve."

To me, there is a huge difference between idea generation and creative development.

A great idea can come from anywhere. Agency people have always known this. While Creatives are the ones tasked with the job, client services people, clients, even admin staff have been known to chirp up with excellent ideas when given the chance. Sometimes entire campaigns are built around conversations that focus group members have when the moderator leaves the room and they forget they are being watched. Just the other day, my Kindergarten-age son said something in the bath that became a concept for a commercial. Even spoof ads from Adbusters can inspire the very people they mock.

But having ideas is not the hardest part about being an advertising Creative. Knowing which ideas are right for the job is.

Throwing your brand open to the ideas of the masses isn't that much different than training intern Copywriters. You get back all kinds of crazy and inappropriate shite, but you can sometimes sift gems out of it. Without strategic guidance and Creative Direction, however, they are just ideas. Concepts are those ideas that pass the creative brief acid test of brand, objectives, message and audience, and can be executed effectively on budget.

So go ahead and get your ideas from adhack if you like. Run a contest to get user submissions for "reality advertising". But you'll never get rid of the admen. Just as with reality TV, the storytelling is all in the editing.


  1. I usually tell my clients that, as in most things in life, you usually get what you pay for. I think that, in advertising as in other service based industries like law, it's usually better to leave it to the pros. Hell, I'm not going to perform heart surgery on myself or fix my own furnace!

    (I will, however, fix my own computer. But I'm crazy that way. Crazy like a fox! :-) )

  2. In a related story, marketing blogs have learned to write themselves.

  3. Hey Tom, thanks for the link to AdHack and the conversation starters around DIY advertising, idea generation and creative development.

    I agree with you that 'you'll never get rid of the admen.'

    With AdHack, we're not out to replace the admen. We're out to open the creative process to participation and help those crazy ideas that come from anywhere find the right home.

    I'm sure you have a ton of ideas all the time that aren't right for your existing clients but could be perfect for another client.

    Our job is to help you put together a sample of that idea, get feedback on it then connect you to that perfect client to sell it. We also want to help you sell all those unused ideas collecting dust on your hard drive.

    If that sounds interesting, get in touch with me or upload some work and we'll get started selling it.

    James Sherrett
    AdHack Founder & CEO
    p: +1-877-477-5697
    t: @adhack