Monday, August 6, 2007

Rob Walker doesn't acknowledge Tribal DDB

One of the best ways to figure out where ad agencies rank in the grand scheme of things is to see if they are credited for work that is talked about in venues beyond the usual suspects. Which brings me to yesterday's Consumed column in The New York Times Sunday Magazine by Rob Walker. It focuses on the "Shave Everywhere" campaign for the Philips Norelco Bodygroom. The centerpiece of the campaign is the site, partly because— since it lives on the Internet—it has allowed Philips Norelco to explore, um, issues that couldn't even be discussed on late night TV, a fact that Walker spends lots of copy on. But no mention of Tribal DDB, which created the campaign. Anywhere. If this habit of omitting the ad agency in the equation weren't so pervasive it would be shocking. Instead, it leaves me once again scratching my head at why these omissions happen all the time. Is it clients who don't want to acknowledge that they need outside help to come up with great ideas? Is it mainstream media who find that discussing the role of the agency is somehow tangential? Or is it that the industry—at least since the days of Mad Men has been pretty miserable at defending itself?
After all these years, I've really no clue.


Alan Wolk said...

Worst offender in this category: The Wall Street Journal ad column. They never mention the agency though the daily column often features extensive quotes from clients.

I always thought it was because they felt ad people were to dumb to comment in the Journal.

Great blog, btw. Really enjoying it.

Anonymous said...

CPT - I had the same exact reaction and even mentioned it to an ad reporter at Adage at lunch. It was shocking to me that the agency got no credit. And they have gotten credit in the past so I'm thinking this is one where the client didn't even tell the agency this was happening. Wonder if this means success spoiled the relationship?

PS - Love the blog! An old friend.

Anonymous said...

agree that TDDB should have been mentioned. but as you know, the instigator gets credit. so this was prob. generated by a keen-to-get-credit client. ddb are old hands at this. and it's not like this is the first article on this one. kinda late in the day really.

good old ny times. they don't rush into things, do they.

Anonymous said...

I think that's perfectly OK -- actually, preferable. It's an agency's job to promote its client, not itself. Moreover, by definition, the agency is an agent, a contractual extension of the actual client company. And any stakeholder that liked the campaign work and has an interest in knowing the identity of the agency parter can just probe superficially to find the answer. Agencies that do good work will get rewarded in the end. Moreover, the client contact could be more likely to be loyal to its agency if the said client contact is made to look like a standalone rock star.
- Max (on vacation from the beach in Sea Isle City, NJ...yes, I went away on vacation to NJ!)