New Beginnings: A Man Walks Into An Ad Agency…

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Ever notice how our lives are centered around or driven by cliches? It is true. Late last year a former associate in and I began to work towards re-branding Carson Dunn Media Advertising, Inc. Right now, I stand on the verge of launching a digital agency that we named CDM Digital. It’s not the same thing, and the changes are significant.

However, where things are the same this that my former associate remains a former associate – apparently not coming along for the ride. I miss her. I realize that people are replaceable, but some talents belong solely to them and you cannot replace what they have.

The task of re-branding is daunting enough. It’s made easier when you have someone who knows your nuances and how the business should function. As it is, we are going to be basing our work product around being the most organized growing digital that there is. So, I imagine it will be a lot of talking to myself situations.

What’s also different is the pursuit for new business. Before, we sat back and waited. Quite honestly, we neglected it to train account executives that knew how to pursue and retain business. The position was usually relegated to the newbies — interns. I understand interns organized themselves, and if you do not pay them, or compensate them in some way, they will become the mob from Les Miserables, seeking to dangle me at the end of a rope. No thanks. Most likely we will have interns, but they’ll be compensated.

Another change is the relationship between client and agency. Once, clients remained with agencies for decades. But, agencies were headed by greats like David Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, Jerry Dela Ferma, Mary Wells and William Burrell. Ambitions are the same, but the terrain is different. That doesn’t mean that client expectation has changed – they expect quality services for the money.

Maybe it’s on the agency with our emphasis of procuring clients, seeing companies as interchangeable, adopting a next man up mentality. Still, we have to have clients. We are a business, too. Pursuing new business is expensive. It may involve materials to develop videos and spec advertisements, or an investment of time alone. From the company and brand standpoint, there is no diminished role for the agency. They see it as an absence of the designation of agency record. Whatever, they want to get things done faster. They aren’t here to placate our egos, just move the bar of revenue.

My preference is to be a lead agency. I would like to return to having clients that are completely loyal and rely on us for marketing, advertising and things within our expertise. But then, Ogilvy, Burnett and the Olympians Of Madison Avenue are gone or retired. What’s left are holding companies that could care less, and passionless, non- creative agencies.

Catch you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy

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