Sunday, July 29, 2012

The 24/7 Agency – are we professionals, or is this Wal-Mart?
The latest new development in the increasingly disturbing “WTF” world of advertising – a new Chicago shop to be launched by Brian Mandelbaum – a 24/7 agency. According to Rupal Parekh’s Ad Age story, the concept is to hire social media content creators and account managers that will work throughout the day and night – always on, always accessible, always clicking.
Sounds kind of like the 3-shift concept of America’s industrial revolution? Or maybe this concept of “the agency that never sleeps” is the next thing in what I would describe as a long, sad, downward spiral for the agency business. Peter McGuinness, CEO of DDB Chicago, described it as “a great way to further commoditize our business.”  He said, and I completely agree, that the problem isn’t whether or not agencies get the job done, or what hours they work. Advertising professionals have never worked a 9-5 structure, and already work nights, weekends, etc. in service of their clients’ programs. He reasons that in an environment where the agency is expected to work at lightening speed, quality will certainly be compromised.
Whatever happened to the perception of advertising and marketing communications agencies as professional service firms? What is Mandelbaum thinking? Is he just pandering to some clients’ needs for instant gratification?
Wal-Mart is open 24/7, but you don’t get better merchandise or a higher quality shopping experience. All you get is low price. Commoditization, indeed. McGuinness is a smart guy. Perhaps that’s why he’s CEO of a major agency in a town that has produced a boatload of real advertising. As for Mandelbaum, good luck. How many graveyard shifts do you think he’ll be working?