October 2019

I was asked recently if the advertising industry is anything like it was when I started my career in the late 70’s. My immediate answer was YES!  But what I really wanted to convey to my questioner was that my continued love for the advertising agency industry feels like a minority opinion these days.

More specifically, people seem to be hating on the word "advertising" to the point that “marketers in the know” are asking "Should Advertising Agencies even be called Ad Agencies anymore?". That happened to be a headline on the cover of a recent trade magazine. As well, I’ve watched the word ‘Advertising’ dissolve into animated shards online that are not so complimentary. These days, it feels like our industry is suffering from a pretty severe bout of self-loathing...

And I don’t understand that.

Gone are the days when advertisers could simply hold viewers and listeners hostage and force them to consume bad messaging - although I contend the best agencies and clients have always strived to be captivating even when they had a captive audience. Thanks to the fragmented media landscape and new emerging technologies, our industry is being forced to go back to our roots (a good thing), creatively solving short term business problems or creating business opportunities while at the same time building a brand. I love that.

In the 1950’s, Howard Luck Gossage famously wrote, "Nobody reads ads. They read what interests them; sometimes it’s an ad." In the 40 years I have been in advertising, the goal has always been to create something that creates conversation, that creates new behaviors. At 78Madison we call it water cooler creative. Work that people love and will share. That hasn’t changed, even though where and how we create these ideas has. Earned media is not a new idea. In fact, it has been the goal of every agency that labels themselves creative - the belief that creativity gives one an unfair advantage in any space. Again, I love that.

You know what else I love?

Today, advertising can no longer be synonymous with a :30 TV commercial; although I still believe a :30 piece of film that can make you laugh, cry, think or question is a very powerful piece of communication. However, over the years, by reducing a traditional advertising agency to a very specific media and overly tested executions, we have unfortunately eroded the client/agency relationship. In my opinion, the Advertising Agency industry needs to get back to advertising with a capital A…

Advertising that takes chances…

Advertising that dreams big…

Advertising that takes you where you didn’t know you wanted to go.

Sometimes, what we make will be an ad. I love ads. But sometimes, it will be a new product. Sometimes, it will be an experience. Sometimes, it will be intellectual property. Sometimes, it will be unexpected partnerships. Sometimes, it will be user generated. Sometimes, it will be a celebrity endorsement.  And some time in the future, it will be something else we haven’t thought of, yet.

But every time, when it’s on strategy and in service of a client’s business, it’s Advertising. So, my wish? My wish is that we take back the word Advertising and collectively love it for what it is at its creative best: The most powerful economic-driver, business problem-solver, culture-changing, dream-maker in the world.

How can anyone not love that?

Should we continue to celebrate Advertising Agencies?

Joe Bouch

CEO, 78Madison

78Madison is a full-service ADVERTISING AGENCY located in Orlando – Altamonte Springs Florida.