Friday, May 2, 2008

And now a word from Tom Messner on the 4As

The below was originally a comment to my post on an alternative viewpoint about the 4As, but it was worth pulling out as its own post, even for those of us—like me—who don't understand it all. The parts I do understand don't necessarily represent the viewpoint of Adverganza, but we're an equal opportunity blog. From the mind of Tom Messner:


Me? I’d rather talk to The Taliban in Kandahar, Afghanistan on why the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed were excellent likenesses of the old coot than present to the Four A’s Oratory Critique Committee that meets annually to throw metaphorical tomatoes at whoever is fool enough to step on their stage.
I know a guy who spoke last year down in Naples, Florida. Nice fellow, but naïve. Woefully naïve.
How naïve is woefully naive? Well, the fool took the assigned topic (Return on Investment) and proposed an investment that anyone in attendance (advertiser, agency, media) could turn a neat profit on for years to come.
He didn’t realize how “rudimentary, self-serving, stating the obvious, predictable” (Sawyer, NY Times, 4/28/08)it was to suggest that the ad business could elevate itself by bringing in, training, using the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He allowed himself to be introduced by a buffoon who graciously invited him to the podium with these flattering syllables: “Our next fellow claims to have invested $2.50 in his agency and turned it into one that went on to have more than one billion dollars in media billing.” The speaker, I know for a fact, also claimed to have been invited and, if pressed, would have claimed to be a U.S. citizen.
For this, he put an presentation together, including a video interview with two Iraq War Veterans who now work at ad agencies, and paid for his and his wife’s transportation. (Although, she claimed to have used frequent flyer miles and her claims I, for one, would not dare think of challenging.)
One attendee was so long truant from the conferences and, at the same time, critical of last year’s speeches (“I hadn’t been in five or six years and I swear to you, one of those speeches was the exact same speech from my last conference.”) that they made her President of the 4 A’s at a salary more than twice the salary of the President of the United States. In a real campaign for President, these days, some enterprising reporter would go back over the last five years to see if, indeed, one of the speeches was the same. Sniper fire all over again.
Truth is the Four A’s only has value in:
a) Lobbying in Washington DC or in states where there is pending legislation destructive to the ad business, and endeavoring to publicize the value advertising brings to consumers and producers
b) Group life and health insurance for member agencies that might benefit from the added weight
c) Coordinating public service advertising
d) Working to achieve a more diverse industry, an industry that might even see an added diversity in war veterans
e) Participating in negotiations with unions that impact the ad business
f) Social
On this last point, tennis and golf are now banned from the conferences, along with other attempts at civility such as dinner and dancing.
The Times headline writer Monday wrote “The Four A’s Tries to Rebuild Momentum.” My guess is that the organization should scuttle the conference altogether as it appears--through its spokespeople-- to have adopted an American Idol “OK Enlighten Me” attitude to those brave enough to step to the podium. Whom will Ms. Sawyer find wanting this time?
Or create Momentum by having the next conference in a place where no millisecond of pleasure is likely to seep through on this Puritan renewal known as the Leadership Conference. Kandahar, of course. Where else?

Mark Kingdon's blog-friendly goodbye

My bud Brian Morrissey pointed out yesterday on Twitter that Mark Kingdon has posted a nice farewell post on Organic's Three Minds blog, as today is his last day before leaving for Second Life. At left, Kingdon sleeping on his new job.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rance Crain's star turn in 'Newsweek'

Nothing against Rance Crain, but I found it a little odd that Newsweek devoted a full dead-tree page to an interview with the Crain Communications honcho in this week's issue. It was billed as part of a series in which Newsweek chairman Richard M. Smith interviews leaders, but, in the greater scheme of things, our industry just isn't worth a whole page in a slimmed-down newsweekly—and I am willing to say that even if you take into account all of the magazines beyond Ad Age that Crain's publishes, it still doesn't merit a full-page in Newsweek. Seemed more to me like an attempt to get Newsweek in front of advertisers than anything else. Sorry, Rance. UPDATE: A friend of Adverganza points us to this video interview that Rance Crain did with Monsieur Smith for Ad Age in January. I report, you decide.

An alternative view of the 4As conference

Ken Krimstein at Partners and Jeary sent me a link to the agency's new blog yesterday. (Krimstein and Jeary, at left, are seen here gesticulating wildly.) Let's just say that they have another viewpoint on the excitement that is coursing through the industry at a time when it is being entirely up-ended. Here's a snippet from their 4As, um, coverage: "Tennis and Golf were cancelled!!! Because we are 'in the most exciting period ever in this business,' or some such hoo-haa. If I hear another panjandrum who made their gazillions in the days of old, interruptive media, describe today's current, insane, web 2.0 (soon to be web 3.0, 4.0, etc.) world as 'the most exciting period ever in this business,' I think I'm going to choke on my virtual martini." As much as I'm a supporter of all this change, I know what he means. (Oh, here's the panjandrum definition you've been looking for: " An important personage or pretentious official."

More coverage of the 4As Leadership Conference

Thought I'd bring you a few more links this morning to coverage of the 4As, as some of our favorite publications (or most high-profile anyway), have posted a few more stories. Here you go:

—Yahoo and Microsoft tell the assembled multitudes that they're not the agency world's frenemies.
Lee Clow, sporting "adidas" t-shirt pronounces, "Yes, television can work. Just shitty television doesn't work."
Google CEO Eric Schmidt on the problems with YouTube.
—Stuart Elliott's wrap-up, including the appearance of non 4As member Jeff Goodby to remember Hal Riney, and lots and lots of naughty words, said from the podium no less! Truly a new day has dawned.

By the way, unless I'm missing something, The Wall Street Journal didn't send anyone.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Social Media Insider interviews Comcast's Twitter guy

Just wanted to point to my latest Social Media Insider column for Mediapost, in which I chatted with Frank Eliason, better known as comcastcares on Twitter. Very nice, sincere guy who is a little overwhelmed at the attention he's been getting lately. Enjoy.

Post that's almost like being in Laguna Niguel!

Nope. No one paid the freight to get Adverganza to Laguna Niguel for the renamed 4As Leadership Conference. Rather than wallow in self-pity, as new 4As chairman Tom Carroll has also asked those lucky enough to be in southern California for the conference to refrain from, I plan to be useful, by posting links to stories from those who are actually there.

—Here's Stuart Elliott's write-up from The New York Times.
The Ad Age story by from Rupal Parekh.
Andrew McMains' story from Adweek.

Having read this post, can't you feel the cool ocean breeze gently stroking your face?

More toe ads for Doritos

What is it with do-it-yourself Doritos ads featuring toes? Here's a second one. Yecch.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Madonna stops by the AT&T Blue Room

For awhile now I've been subscribing to the ShareATT channel on YouTube, which, as advertiser content plays go, is pretty random. They might be showing a commercial, or some video about how AT&T is sponsoring Wi-Fi at Starbucks, or a series of interviews from the AT&T Blue Room featuring Panic at the Disco, Mariah Carey, or Madonna (above). While the videos are also available at this site, it's surprising how little play they get on YouTube. It's not as though the interviews are that fabulous, but as one example, a Mariah Carey video put up a week ago has less than 400 views. I'm not sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear about her creative inspiration, but I was under the impression a few other people were.

For those really into Grand Theft Auto IV

If this is a big day for you because of the release of Grand Theft Auto IV (it's a day like any other at Adverganza Estates), you may want to spend the next minute and a half watching this time-lapse video of the billboard for the game being painted over the course of a few days at the corner of Canal and Greene Street.

Jeff Dachis re-emerges as Mr. Web 2.0

Like a bad penny, you know Jeff Dachis is always going to turn up somewhere, so, you may have read, that the former Razorfish chief has secured as much as $50 million (or as his press release put it, $50 Million), to start a social networking consultancy. In fairness to Jeff, he did have a good idea or two back in the day, but I'm a little unclear as to what qualifies him to run a big Web 2.0 company. There are similarities between the old Web and this new one, but to an extent it's a different sensibility, and there's no evidence that those who succeeded at the former will succeed at the latter. Of course, the one post I saw about Dachis' venture (on Gawker, natch), makes much of Razorfish's descent into a dot-bomb, but in that, the company was hardly alone. Still, if you have a strong acquaintance with the facts, you have to marvel at some of the detail in the press release. Not that what's said there isn't true exactly, but on the other hand ... For instance, there's this roundabout reference to Avenue A/Razorfish's acquisition by Microsoft: "Continuing its growth, although Dachis left the company in 2001, Avenue A | Razorfish now part of aQuantive, was recently sold to Microsoft for $6 Billion in May 2007." True enough, but how much of that price tag was attributable to Razorfish? Not much, I'd venture—no funding pun intended! It was mostly about Atlas. And then there's the references to where he's been quoted, including CBS' 60 Minutes, which neglects to mention that the interview with Dachis was one of the most infamous of the dot-com era. But, hell, maybe I'm just pissed off. I talk a good game too, and I don't get paid nothin' for this stinkin' blog.

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 04.28.08

Wherein I scan the Monday morning headlines so you don't have to:

From Advertising Age:

—First in what promises to be a really depressing series: the newspaper death watch. Time to re-up that Zoloft prescription.
—In this economy, there's no business like the Internet business.
Volume discounts from Google? Dream on.
Digital agency execs put the "ex" in exit.
Starbucks a little less entertaining than it used to be. Decides to actually focus on coffee.
—Saturn hopes its owners orbit around a new social networking site, imSaturn.

—Bob Garfield not feeling the love in this Heineken Premium Light spot from Wieden + Kennedy. If you don't overthink it, it's kinda fun.
iew with Richard Schaps, CEO of Van Wagner. Nice hair.

From Adweek:

—The annual report card issue of both creative and media agencies. Since it doesn't look like you can get all of the grades without clicking on every agency, I'll do it for you. First, the grades for creative agencies:

Arnold: B
Bartle Bogle Hegarty: B+
Campbell-Ewald: C-
Campbell Mithun: D
Carmichael Lynch: C
Cramer-Krasselt: B
Porter + Bogusky: B+
Deutsch: B
Doner: D
DraftFCB: C
Euro RSCG: B
Fallon: C-
Goodby, Silverstein + Partners: A-
Grey: C+
GSD&M Idea City: D+
Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos: B+
The Kaplan Thaler Group: B
Leo Burnett: C-
Lowe: D+
The M
artin Agency: B+
McCann Erickson: B+
Merkley + Partners: B-
Mullen: B-
Ogilvy & Mather: C+
Publicis & Hal Riney: C+
Publicis USA: A-
The Richards Group: C
Saatchi & Saatchi: A-
TBWA\Chiat\Day: B-
Wieden + Kennedy: B
Young & Rubicam: C+
Zimmerman: B-

Here are the media agency grades:

Carat: B-
Horizon: B
Initiative: A-
Mediacom: B+
Mediaedge CIA: A-
Mediavest: A-
Mindshare: B-
Optimedia: B+
Starcom: B
Universal McCann: B
Zenith Media: A-

e media agency CEOs just can't sit still.
—Magazine publishers look up their sleeves in search of new tricks.
—Leslie Winthrop and Lisa Colantuono tell agencies how they should pitch business.

From Brandweek:

—How high gas prices affect branding efforts. readies a big promotional push around its ability to help consumers find new cars.
—Marketers are loving teensy, weensy, targeted social networks.
—Marketers can't wait to add apps to the iPhone.
Wal-Mart and Hearst join together in custom-publishing deal. Hey, didn't Hearst already do that with Sears?

From Mediapost:

—AT&T courts music lovers online.
—John Burbank becomes CMO of Nielsen. Is that the same John Burbank that I went to elementary school with? Probably not.
—The FTC looks to define what green is.
—New campaign says that to buy a Subaru is to love a Subaru.
—Heinz has picked a winner in its second CGM contest.
KSL launches an online barter system.
—Did you know that Microsoft's Yahoo deadline has passed?

From The New York Times:

—This ju
st in: Mars to acquire Wrigley for $23 billion.
Clinton, Obama and McCain court the WWE. Check out this photo of "Hillary" beating on "Barack."
—Rewards for taking pictures of ads. It's not exactly high art.
The new and improved 4As leadership conference.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Email from Bill Wrigley to the company about the Mars merger. Love the completely non-descriptive subject header: "
Important Announcement Regarding Our Future." Subscription required.
—Cable companies run nasty ads. Subscription required.
—Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer either has to back off Yahoo or pursue a hostile takeover. Free.
—Trying to set the world record for Diet Coke/Mentos geysers. Free.