Category Archives: global ad campaigns

Teamwork? More like reamwork.

Anyone who admires Jeff Goodby is pretty much OK by me. So I’m not here to talk smack about Joel Ewanick and I’m not rooting for Commonwealth, his cobbled-together Franken-agency for Chevrolet’s global account, to fail.

Why? Because, while the comparison is inviting, it’s not Enfatico, the much reviled “agency of the future” assembled for Dell that, like that client’s product, was ugly, unloved and under-powered. George Parker beat that shop like a mule, and rightly so.

Also: because I don’t want anything bad to happen to Goodby.

The thing that fascinates me about Commonwealth and other attempts of this sort is the extent to which clients do not understand the feral, foam-at-the-mouth loathing that agencies forced into the yoke of “teamwork” have for one another.

I used to think it was arrogance. Years ago, when I was a creative director on AT&T’s consumer business at Ayer and McCann had the B2B and FCB had direct marketing, we would periodically all be summoned to client HQ to be briefed on jump-ball projects. It was like the holding area in a cock-fighting arena.

The clients droned on with their presentations, oblivious to the stink-eye flying around the room. Did they not see? Did they not care? My assumption back then was the client believed buckets of revenue trumped petty rivalry, so get with the program.

I don’t think Joel Ewanick is that stupid, or arrogant. I think clients, who succeed in large companies by their ability to work in teams and build consensus, just do not understand, at a visceral level, that agency luminaries succeed by building personal mystiques, owning famous work, and/or wearing signature outfits. Not, like Jeff Goodby and Joe Garcia, by doing public trust-falls into the arms of their frenemies.

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Same shit, different accent.

I’m back from two weeks in Scotland and I’ve watched a good bit of British television waiting for the sun to set sometime after 11 PM so I could go to sleep. And that meant the chance to watch a lot of UK advertising.

I’m here to report that it’s fookin’ rubbish, as the Scots would say. Just as we Americans generally mistake an English accent for a sign of intelligence, we hear those same plummy tones in their spots and give terrible English advertising a free pass.

What’s remarkable is how the advertising in each category tends to suck more or less exactly as much as its counterpart in the States. Royal Bank of Scotland, which imploded more thoroughly than Citi or Wachovia and is now owned by the taxpayers, is running “real people” testimonials with the line “Here for you.” Sound familiar?

Jaguars and BMWs veer around hairpin turns in cool, desaturated, misty worlds devoid of oncoming vehicles to a trendy music track. Sound familiar?

An analgesic…can’t remember which one…was a cheesy problem/solution POS with a graphic demo showing the wonder ingredient rushing to “the site of the pain.”

Fairy Liquid (P&G’s UK version of Dawn) is doing a down-through-the-generations-mums-have-always-trusted-Fairy spot. Sepia to black and white to Kodachrome to today. Classic Procter twaddle.

Speaking of Procter & Gamble, they started this “If it works here, it’ll work there” business years ago. They even had a name for it: Search and Re-apply. Really. I know firsthand because I was always being asked to try the campaign that worked in Yemen or Uruguay or Chechnia back when I worked on P&G business.

And of course, depressingly, they were right, as they are about most things having to do with marketing. People are all the same. Blood pudding at breakfast instead of bacon doesn’t make for a different insight. It’s just a different part of the pig. The only reason for a global brand to do different advertising in each country is politics…keep the locals feeling empowered.

That’s why I want to laugh when I hear clients at focus groups in New Jersey (the world capital of focus groups) say that perhaps they should do more groups in Minneapolis or San Diego or wherever to get a more varied perspective.

Are you kidding? You can go to fookin’ Scotland an’ ye’ll hear the same bollocks, mate!