Wise and Prescient, Or Slightly Depressing?

‘Nothing had changed in the mix except the advertising. In the right hands it is a commercial weapon of enormous power. It will remain so. Indeed, I believe it will become even more important to clients. As media opportunities expand and audiences fragment only outstanding work will stand out. The good agencies will be at a premium.’

It wouldn’t be any fun if I copied that out of some article Brand Republic posted yesterday, so why not kill a few seconds and guess who said it and when?

Full marks to the absolutely none of you (except maybe Daryl) who said ‘David Abbott, AMV annual report, 1989’.

So he got the fragmentation of media thing spot-on at a time when Batman had us queuing round the block and Ride On Time was the soundtrack to a million really shitty dance moves. (By the way, does anyone else mentally sum up the eighties with an image of a black guy in cheap braces and a cycle cap with the peak flipped up dancing in a really Uncle Tom-ish, grinny way to The Only Way Is Up by Yazz? Nope? Just me then.)

But even though David Mystic Megged himself a cracker with that one, the rest of the prediction leaves me somewhat perturbed.

Are the good agencies really at a premium?

Aside from what they charge (that really varies from client to client), the gap between the good and the bad agencies and the work they produce has shrunk.

Here’s Grey:

And McCann’s:

To ram the point home, I’d now embed a couple of examples of crummy work done by good agencies but it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Think of a good shop and it should take you about another nanosecond to think of an ad they’ve created that won’t be troubling the jurors of the BTAA.

So we’re through the looking glass here, people. Black is white and white is black.

Is any agency capable of producing really good work? And if every agency is capable of good or shit work under certain circumstances, what really distinguishes one from another? And, therefore, which ones deserve to charge a premium? And with the coming economic constrictions, will any of them be able to?

It almost feels as if any client can now cast a few pennies to the floor and watch in mordant satisfaction as half a dozen shops scrabble around in front of them, selling any dignity they had for the opportunity to bend over like a cheap streetwalker on pay day.

Or have I had one too many G&Ts?