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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!

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The new Intel campaign by Venables Bell and Partners sounds a bit unfocused. The idea behind the campaign “Sponsors of Tomorrow” sounds good enough, though a couple of years ago the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) did something similar through Toy-NY which was a bit trite. Intel’s campaign, according to reports, has three different executional ideas which makes it messy:  Portraying Intel R&D people as rock stars, comparing the Intel culture to popular culture ("our clean room isn’t like your clean room"), and showing what the future will be like thanks to Intel (a digital campaign). That’s three ideas, one tagline.  

 

The new McDonald’s McCafé advertising from DDB, Chicago, on the other hand, is based on a very tight idea. And a powerful idea. When you buy a McCafé beverage, it transforms wherever you are into a café, highlighted by a visual accent popping up on the “e” of the location name. (A commute turns into a commuté, for instance.) Pairing this graphic idea with amazingly lush film of the coffee takes the viewer out of greasy burger heaven and into – in the mind at least — an aromatic French café. Simple. Focused. Evocative. About the product. Peace.   

 

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J.C. Penny’s idea.

I’ve never been a fan of Penny’s though I certainly know the store and have shopped there.
 
The Saatchis are launching a new campaign around the idea “Every Day Matters,” a welcome change from the old effort “It’s all inside.” “It’s all inside” was not an idea, it was a tagline. The only way if could have been an idea was as a consolidation or a one stop shop strategy, and that’s no way to build a brand. Where’s the aspiration? Where’s the consumer? If there was a double meaning in the line, a la it’s all inside the human spirit, I thing DDB fell short. The musical device build to present the line was a keeper, I will say, but that’s it.
 
“Every day matters” is own-able and deliverable. Most important, it is an architecture for an ongoing, meaningful, consumer-focused story. Let’s hope the Saatchi’s can deliver. 
 

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