Editorial Good thinking

Of the many - and there sure have been many - catch-phrases that have sprung up over the years as attempts to capture the essence of what the advertising business is all about, probably the most enduring is the one that...

Of the many – and there sure have been many – catch-phrases that have sprung up over the years as attempts to capture the essence of what the advertising business is all about, probably the most enduring is the one that proposes:

‘My inventory goes down the elevator every night.’

The advertising business was from its inception, and is no less today, an industry built upon what comes out of people’s thinking. Advertising is not about technology or organizational structures. It is about ideas, good taste and the process of outmaneuvering competitors by outsmarting them.

Goodyear Canada has reaffirmed the continuing relevance of this fairly simple definition with its recent decision to award its advertising account to a new company whose sole ‘inventory’ at the moment is the people associated with it.

Goodyear talked to other advertising agencies after terminating its five-year relationship with McCann-Erickson Advertising three months ago. But it obviously would have taken quite a bit for some outsider to break the considerable faith that Goodyear clearly has in several of the key McCann executives that served the business and who have now re-emerged in another, more simplified form.

The new company, Due North Communications, is headed by Mark Weisbarth, the former senior account manager responsible for Goodyear. He has formed a series of alliances with others who also worked on Goodyear, most notably former creative director Joan McArthur, the person responsible for giving Goodyear the highly successful Thom Sharpe campaign.

The Goodyear initiative is a significant story given that so much of the Canadian advertising community seems so frightened by the prospect of further loss of market share to foreign-made advertising. Goodyear has just shown that the global advertising phenomenon is by no means an irresistible force. Significantly, in this case not only did Goodyear’s Canadian management say ‘No’ to its existing internationally aligned agency, McCann, but it also resisted moving its business to Goodyear’s other international agency, J. Walter Thompson, which handles the account in the u.s.

In an interview with Strategy, Ian McIntosh, Goodyear general manager consumer products, who, incidentally, worked for a spell at jwt in Toronto, said in today’s fiercely competitive environment he needs direct access to the best people he can find. And, having slashed his own operations to the bone, he is not willing to pay for what he considers the expensive frills of a big ad agency.

‘I’m not singling out multinational agencies, but I am taking a shot at the process itself,’ McIntosh says in a story this issue. ‘Advertising agencies need to go back to doing what they do best, and that is advertising. We were not upset with the people nor the advertising [at McCann.] What we’re saying, though, is that we don’t need all the extra bodies and offices and layers of departments.’

Hearing this, good Canadian advertising people should feel encouraged.