Friday, July 3, 2009

"The times they are a changin..."

While I’m not positive that Bob Dylan wrote that song or line for the Advertising Industry, but it has never been more true than right now. The industry as a whole has been taking a beating because of the economic downturn and everybody and their mother has asked for a bailout. And while we are not in an industry that gives handouts (aside from the odd NGO campaign) our services as advertising agencies seem to be the first expenditure on the chopping block. For years advertising agencies in general have been perceived as an overcharging, expensive and only looking out for ourselves not necessary but a ‘nice to have’ service by marketers.

There are some agencies that have heard this and are standing up for agencies to show that we will sacrifice the Kraft truck and champagne kisses in order to continue to do some great work.

Over the last month or so campaigns from agencies have been popping up across North America offering clients (marketers) the opportunity to remain competitive and active with their communications by providing advertising services at a reduced rate or no fees at all! An industry that has taken for so long has decided to give back in order to get their creative fix (like a junky in need of their next hit).

Why now? It’s simple really, this is a vulnerable time for the big agency and the small and medium size has recognized this and is using this opportunity to dangle their line in the water in hopes of landing one of the big fish. It has become apparent that a lot of the bigger agencies have taken their line out of the water for the time being and that the little guys being so nimble in size can afford the right bait for these hard times. I could use fish analogies all day but the point is that these hardships have brought new opportunities that marketing departments may never see again. The only challenge is getting past the fact that a lot of these companies remain relatively unknown in the big world of advertising.

Should these offers be taken seriously? It really depends on what it is your looking for.

Elemental Agency from Toronto recently launched the Marketing Budget Bailout campaign ( offering marketers a bailout package that includes strategy, the communication plan and creative without any sort of a payback.

Agency Nil from Virginia is offering its services for a price of ‘whatever you think the work is worth’ (

The Brainstorm Group recently ran a newspaper ad of a coupon giving clients $40,000 off if they signed up to work with them on a retainer worth $250,000 plus.

Do these campaigns work? Only time will tell. All I can say is that now is the time for small and medium sized agencies with their low overhead costs to finally reel in a large client. I look forward to these tall tales in the future about how they finally landed a big one.


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