Monday, September 03, 2012

10476: Madison Avenue Madam Is Fucked Up.

Advertising Age reported on the launch of Madam, a consultancy out to revolutionize the agency search process. Madam is the brainchild of Michael Lee, an ex-creative director who spent the past ten years at Euro RSCG in New York—an experience which undoubtedly provided terrific insight for being on the losing end of new business shootouts.

Madam boasts a fresh business model incorporating Pinterest, Skype and e-auctions. A traditional advertising lifer using digital and social media to coordinate pitches with traditional advertising agencies and clients should lead to chaos and comedy. Granted, the standard agency search could benefit from an overall rethink. Yet a close read of the Ad Age article seems to show a frustrated creative guy attempting to streamline methods just for the sake of getting stuff done faster. And the 90-minute meetings notion featuring “curve ball questions” and impromptu responses feels like game-show fodder.

“We want to bring a real value to a client not by leveling the playing field or running a strict process,” Mr. Lee said. “We should let agencies be themselves. Leveling the playing field has gotten a little out of hand.” Sounds like Lee is endorsing the kind of client wooing that integrates everything from gifts to bribes to, well, visits with real madams. Plus, Lee’s concept essentially guarantees minority shops will continue to be prohibited from participating in reviews. The new business model is a throwback to the classic way of doing things, embellished with a few high-tech twists.

Not surprisingly, Lee has already reached out to former clients and associates, perpetuating the buddy system and cronyism that taint agency searches and the industry. It’s not what you know but who you know. Madam presents the same old same old with a provocative label—a stereotypical, hackneyed idea masquerading as progress. It could make AMC series The Pitch look good.

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