Posted by: David Kiley on July 28, 2009
By Jon Bond
Jon Bond is co-chairman and co-founder of Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners.
The advertising agency business began in the 19th century with the premise that by giving away the creative idea, the advertising agency could convince the client to allow them to place their media, thus netting a tidy 15% commission. Basically, the idea was to give away the valuable part, the idea, so that you could get the commodity part, the media, which was where you made all the money.
How stupid is this?
Imagine going to a restaurant and paying $50 for the bread, but getting the full-meal for free. Yet, this is pretty much the way its been for over a century. And you wonder why agency people are a bit nuts.
Today, there is emerging a different dynamic. “Paid” media—the ads we buy on TV, newspapers and magazines—are not what people are talking about. Instead, they are talking about FREE media. The viral video you pass along to your friends….someone’s facebook page…..the online buzz that moves through the planet with blinding speed. Essentially, electronic word of mouth.
And not only is this media all virtually free, but it’s also more persuasive than paid media because it typically comes from someone you know and trust, or is a part of pop culture, which is instant credibility in America, and often instant “cool” as well.
And what is it that moves through this system? It’s the idea. Because the only thing worth passing along is a good idea. It has to actually earn its media the hard way, by being worthy of other people’s time. This new construct has a chance to finally set things straight in ad-land.
Finally, clients will pay for the idea (the steak). And the best ideas will become obvious because they will create more of their own media. WE can get paid more for the better ideas and less for the mediocre ideas, just like a great steak place gets more for their product than a so-so steak restaurant. Again, based on merit. So, when I hear people in the agency world today say they don’t understand this new world, its all too confusing and only my 13 year-old daughter really ‘gets it’, I say, “No,” its you who are twisted and confused. Because you’ve been living with a silly 19th century custom for so long, you actually think it IS reality. It took a century or more, but sanity is just over the horizon in the ad business. Now, maybe some of us ad people will start acting a little less crazy ourselves. Lewis Carrol,forgive us.