I am enormously appreciative to Matthew Weiner, creator of Mad Men, for reminding everyone what the ad agency business was (and always should be) about. No, I am not referring to excessive drinking and office sex-capades, although that is what gets Mad Men most of the press. I mean the focus on ideas, the sparks that go off in creative sessions at the agency when Don or Peggy hit upon something so absolutely right that no one else has thought of before. And the selling of those ideas, such as The Carousel episode that ended Season One.
There are related moments when clients deflate some of those ideas (such as when Conrad Hilton walks out genuinely disappointed that Don didn’t take seriously his comment about having a hotel on the moon someday). Listening remains an unappreciated art.
Mad Men does a great job of underscoring for all of us still in the agency business that ideas matter above all else. A lot of descriptors get tossed around these days as marketing gets put in a blender of new technologies — traditional agency. . .interactive agency. . .SEO agency. . .social media agency. None of that matters if branding and campaigns are not grounded in well-thought-out strategy that serves as a foundation for superb creative.
There is too much reaction and over-reaction in business today and not enough thoughtful reflection and planning. Those light bulb moments require a lot of groundwork and careful nurturing. But the ideas that result often have lasting brand-defining impact and value.
It is with genuine appreciation for the importance of inspiration that prompts us at Newton Associates to launch this agency blog. We aren’t about to over-promise this will be a perpetual fountain of great ideas. But we are an opinionated bunch, passionate about advertising, so it should be a useful and interesting place to turn for commentary about getting attention, making sales, and retaining customers in a tougher-than-ever global economy.