New Beginnings: Crap Free-Zone

I have a close friend that reinvents how she allows people to deal with her. She does this at least once a year and it’s not a “New years Resolution.” As she explained it, it is reminding people that she is as God made her, fearful and wonderful. As such, she is to be taken seriously. Ask a question, don’t get mad at the answer. It turns out she is able to dictate to people to follow certain parameters that insure respect is given to her and her opinions valued. I like that.

That’s why I had to take a hard look at my ad agency. Several questions came to mind: 1) Am I taken seriously; 2) Is my agency relevant?; 3) How can I attract new and exciting (paying clients); 4) Who will set our goals and adhere to them? 5) Is the quality of work up to standard? Most of the answers pointed back to me. So, after contemplated applied logic, I came to a startling conclusion – how I ran it was killing my business. So had I needed to change. Carson Dunn Media Advertising had to change. I had to rid myself of the crap.

CDM Digital is the re-branding of an advertising agency called Carson Dunn Media Advertising. Re-branding is not really the right descriptive word as to what happened. Call it decimation, a completely dismantling of an old business plan that was not working to its optimum potential.

Why was that?

In 2013 it became clear that we needed to evolve into an agency with digital capabilities. That’s a bit more than owning more computers and mobile devices. It means synthesizing advertising in a digital format. That process could encompass Internet ads, PPC (per click advertising), website development, SEO, video and even that mainstay, television. Change was a slap in my face because I founded Carson Dunn Media Advertising. It was in the Ogilvy traditional, but I have none of David Ogilvy’s genius in advertising. My genius may lie elsewhere, but I am good.

My thinking shifted rapidly about how to pursue customers. Digital agencies have out grown traditional agencies. Still, in order to succeed one has to do good work. We are waiting on the big shot client to blow their socks off. In the meantime we can no longer fool with small companies that can’t or won’t pay us. My time is valuable – CDM can’t afford them.

(Still, as it relates to quality of product and service. Old David remains the standard.(

I can’t make apologies for being of the opinion that people that work for agencies should have a common purpose — create the best advertising and calculate it to sell a client’s product. Clients aren’t impressed with how well a creative can turn a phrase, or design out this world graphics. It is and always been the bottom line. How much money am I making. Most advertising graduates don’t know what I’m talking about.

People believe that their independence must be disruptive of the agency itself. So this type of baloney and infighting wounds both the psyche and work product. Everybody suffers. Talented staff helps an organization grow, but its compassion that rules the day. We want to be ahead of the next agency — we will be smarter, leaner and be purposeful. I will start a long interview process for Spring. I expect many will say their book of work is fine. Careful, I am setting the parameters now. Understand though what will be asked is that bring ideas to the fore that is better than the stuff that passes for “advertising.” Most of it is crap. Everybody knows it.

In whatever you do, make 2014 a crap free zone. Only allow good work to pass through your hands.

Catch you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy

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