Editorial

Getting it rightIn the last issue of Strategy, we carried a story about a prominent advertiser - Goodyear Canada - bucking the system.Goodyear's decision, first, to end an internationally ordained relationship with McCann-Erickson Advertising, and, second, not to go the usual...

Getting it right

In the last issue of Strategy, we carried a story about a prominent advertiser – Goodyear Canada – bucking the system.

Goodyear’s decision, first, to end an internationally ordained relationship with McCann-Erickson Advertising, and, second, not to go the usual route of inviting all the pedigreed agencies that do not have conflicting accounts to pitch its business, is an illustration of how times have changed.

The Canadian management of Ohio-based Goodyear said the company here could not see much use in trying out another big agency, so it opted for advertising people and a service structure of its own choosing.

In this issue of Strategy, we carry more challenges to the status quo, but, from different directions. One comes from a senior media executive at one of Canada’s most important media outlets, cbc national television. And the other comes from within the agency community.

Both Steve Jones, national director of sales for the cbc and Brian Harrod, one of the country’s most respected advertising creative directors, are saying that Canadian agencies can – and must – do better. Their opinions begin on this page.

Jones argues, among other things, that ad agency media people need to find their way back to the time when they had a better intuitive understanding of the media that they buy on behalf of their clients. He concedes this will require proper (meaning, increased) funding of agency media departments, but he also suggests that agencies cannot afford not to make the investment.

‘People have to be brought in to replace formulas. Right now, there are routines. But routine precludes any kind of creativity, any kind of moving forward. Routine allows you to stay where you are. That’s got to change.’

Harrod says Canadian creative people should take heed of Canada’s poor performance at the recent International Advertising Festival in Cannes as a warning that creative standards in this country have fallen.

By celebrating mediocre work at Canadian advertising awards shows, Canadians have created a false sense of accomplishment, and, in the meantime, the rest of the world has passed us by, suggests Harrod.

‘And what concerns me now – with free trade and the way the world is going – we, as an advertising centre, must compete with the rest of North America. We have to attract business as Minneapolis, San Francisco and Portland do – through great locally-based agencies. And, perhaps, more importantly, we also need those great agencies just to keep the business that’s already here.’

Jones and Harrod are by no means agency-bashing. Their observations and suggestions fall into the category of constructive criticism – appeals, almost, for ad agencies to get it right.

And there is a lot at stake, both with respect to what might be lost as with what might be gained. As Harrod concludes:

‘After all, as much as things seem to have changed around us, other things haven’t, like the fact that a marketer’s most powerful tool is great creative.’