Like Yogi Berra said, “It’s like deja-vu, all over again.” An article in Digiday around the “advertising is a commodity” topic reminded me of a long running discussion that’s had more than one ad agency or brand exec reaching for the Maalox. You’ve heard it before: ad agencies and the services they offer are commodities.
Let’s face it, most agencies really are nothing but a commodity play for their clients [and for the record, that's how the clients treat them, and they hate it]. And the comments by Andrew Teman and Lars Bastholm are right on [damn, those guys will never work in this town again! Call me fellas. Let's collaborate and make some real money by making our clients rabidly happy via delivering kick-ass results].
But the real problem isn’t that advertising is a commodity, it’s that no one’s really doing anything about it.
Sure, there are some really smart, savvy, exception-to-the-rule shops out there that know how to create real value for their clients through great strategy, innovative creative, and in general, simply delivering the ROI clients expect and deserve. Those people rarely sit around having the “advertising is a commodity” chat. They’re too busy doing great stuff and making money.
As Dustin Staiger said in a blog post back in 2005 [how far will I go to make a point? 8 years seems good enough, for now], anything can be a commodity.
“Some people undersell their offerings because they believe they’re selling a commodity. In fact, there are probably an incredible number of opportunities to buy “commodities” and turn right around and sell them as valuables. Many people have become rich this way.
If you’re a baker, you take the commodities of sugar and flour and create a valuable wedding cake. If you’re a manufacturer, you take the commodities of raw materials and create a valuable product.”
Here’s a suggestion to all of those agencies out there trying to figure out how to get around the “advertising is a commodity” problem: stop whining and start creating more value for your clients with the commodities you’ve got to work with. That’ll change your relationships and your business for the better…and help the industry. Then you can move on to another excuse as to why your agency isn’t making money.
Advertising doesn’t have to be a commodity. Get in touch. I’ll help you figure it out.
“The Timesheet Tax on Creativity” – Digiday
“Is Advertising a Commodity?” – Casual Fridays
“Bogusky: ‘Creativity May Be a Commodity’; Eyes End of Big Agency Era” – CBS MoneyWatch