The story below appeared at Advertising Age. Scan it quickly and read the MultiCultClassics perspective immediately following…
P&G’s Production Move Makes Industry a Worse Place
Marketers Won’t Gain Efficiencies by Strangling Creativity
By Teressa Iezzi
So P&G is now going to choose with which production companies its agencies can work in the U.S. From a select group of production shops chosen by its roster of agencies, P&G will demand detailed financial information and discounted long-term production costs. The marketing giant is looking to reduce the number of production vendors it uses to 30 (from over 100) and set production rates for the next two years, at least. Production companies that agree to P&G’s terms will be given “preferred vendor” status but not guaranteed any work.
Sounds great. What happens now?
1. Production companies get squeezed, again. We can all agree that creativity can flourish under pressure, be it the temporal, financial or peer variety, and that a lot of great ideas have been executed for next to nothing. But production companies are consistently asked to do what is realistically big-budget-level work for not much beyond the reel/career boost the resultant campaign bestows on the director involved. Given that P&G so rarely backs reel-boosting work, participating production companies can’t count on banking even prestige.
2. Creativity suffers. The still-moist notion that it’s possible to do interesting things for huge, unglamorous marketers is put out of its misery. The best creatives do whatever they can to not work on P&G. Here’s the part where I sound naïve, thinking that every marketer wants to actually do what you would call “creative work.” Of course not all of them (perhaps not many of them) do. But this is a company that’s eagerly claimed the mantle of creative marketer, one that accepted marketer-of-the-year honors at Cannes, billed as the industry’s premier celebration of brand creativity. But creativity isn’t just about communications, it’s about process too. P&G might not be the best advertiser, but it has demonstrated innovation in certain areas (product design). Rethinking its production processes would have been a great opportunity to apply some creativity—as the Association of Independent Commercial Producers has suggested, perhaps tying production costs to guaranteed shoot days or payment terms. But the proposal doesn’t seem to encompass anything creative or anything that encourages creativity.
3. P&G creates the appearance of creating significant efficiencies.
4. P&G gains no such efficiencies. See No. 1. Production companies already do a lot of work for less than fair market value. As one agency producer puts it, “It doesn’t matter what the budget is; there’s always a way to find a way to do something. I don’t think these rates are going to be that great, or beyond what we could get on a given day. It won’t give them the results they want—and it’ll set up this tension in the industry about people wanting P&G rates.”
5. The best talent gets yet another reason to leave the industry. And the talent that might have, once upon a time, considered entering advertising gets another reason to look elsewhere for a creative career. In the wake of this country’s financial crisis, many are looking to a new, small-business-driven innovation boom. With Wall Street a little off its game, other fields stand to benefit from an influx of new brains. Precedents like this encourage those brains to bypass advertising and marketing, where, not only do you not own the great ideas you create, but where you’re now under orders as to with whom and on what basis you can collaborate. Buh-bye, innovators and creative geniuses.
6. Another of the final drops of joy left in the industry evaporates. We’re all painfully aware of the choices that most businesses have been forced to make in the last year. But here’s to P&G for making the industry just that little bit shittier just because it can.
Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine and Creativity-Online.com
Um, can’t help but think Teressa Iezzi typed this bullshit after having lunch with a whining BDA creative director—probably at a fancy New York restaurant.
There are lots of questions here. The first one being why the hell the editor believes she is qualified to pontificate on matters at all.
That aside, Iezzi should rest assured that P&G is not launching Armageddon on Madison Avenue. Indeed, the actions are likely a response to the advertising industry’s bloated and corrupt practices.
This is hardly a new initiative. Over the years, P&G has routinely introduced mandates designed to generate efficiencies. So has nearly every big advertiser.
Perhaps these measures would not be necessary if advertising agency dinosaurs didn’t consistently insist on hiring A-level directors for lame talking-head commercials—while staying at 5-star hotels and maxing per diems like corporate CEOs on crack.
Why the outrage, Ms. Iezzi? Let’s be honest. Advertising agencies are just as guilty when it comes to being in bed with “preferred vendors,” accepting favored rates, gifts and kickbacks in exchange for repeat assignments.
Additionally, P&G is not very revolutionary. That is, the “preferred vendors” list will almost certainly be comprised of production houses that have already successfully serviced the mega-client. In other words, the advertising agencies’ pet production pals will not be eliminated from the festivities. However, they may unable to continue spoiling agency peeps with gourmet dinners, theater tickets and other pampering excursions.
Not surprisingly, completely ignored in Iezzi’s rant are any references to minority advertising agencies—maybe because the esteemed editor of Creativity magazine and Creativity-Online.com has never visited non-White shops…?
Otherwise, Iezzi might know that P&G and nearly every other major advertiser has issued orders like these to minority shops for generations.
Minority shops are expected (i.e., forced) to use minority production houses and vendors, mostly in order to satisfy the advertisers’ minority supplier goals versus choosing the best person for the job. Or the minorities are required to tag onto White agencies’ productions, where they inevitably assume a literal minority status.
Minority shops are expected to execute their concepts for significantly less money than White agencies, which translates to reduced resources and results. If White agencies were asked to perform under similar conditions, the majority of them would go out of business.
Minority shops are expected to serve as “consultants” to White agencies, reviewing White agencies’ concepts for projects that should rightly belong to minority shops. P&G is a prime culprit for this nonsense.
Minority shops are expected to deliver in ways that make White agencies’ potentially joyless existence feel like paradise.
The difference is, minority shops don’t have the luxury of recruiting reporters to air their childish grievances.
The Ad Age editor ends by declaring, “But here’s to P&G for making the industry just that little bit shittier just because it can.”
Ms. Iezzi, take a closer look at the Mad Men you’re sleeping with. Their hands are covered with the feces contributing to the industry’s shittiness.