Paul Gumbinner, a friend and one of New York’s more successful advertising recruiters, wrote a post this week about how little diversity there is among agencies today. The unique agency segments of yore are no longer apparent. He is quite correct. Part of Paul’s argument is that the leaders of those agencies created unique cultures. Bill Bernbach in the 60s. Jay Chiat in the 70s. Dan Wieden in the 80s. Donnie Deutsch in the 90s.
Interestingly, the turn of the century brought agency start-ups and technology themed shops. Leadership became secondary to coolness. Exciting, new brands emerged with selfless senior management: Anomaly, Barbarian Group, Razorfish, Naked, Organic, Strawberry Frog, Taxi, Renegade, Brooklyn Brothers, Mother, Droga5 (cheater) and Poke. These leaders, smart marketers all, put their brands first. Built teams. Tried to figure out the new order and class of work, kept their heads down and promoted their brands. It was a good strategy. BBDO, DDB, McCann went a little GM, if you will. (General Motors.)
As all agencies (big and small) move toward the middle these days, using a complicated quiver of arrows, we’re beginning to see some new leaders emerge from this new group. These new leaders have been playing quiet offense thus far — and as Mr. Gumbinner points out. But the decade of 2010 is providing a fresh canvas for new leaders. Welcome Faris. Welcome Noah. Welcome Lori. Welcome Gareth. Peace!