I just finished reading an article in Ad Age, The Marketing Company Communications Disconnect - And Why Ad Agencies Are Viewed As Laborers Rather Than Architects. So why out of all of the Fortune 20 is GE the only company with communications professionals who sit on their corporate board? (BTW, this would make both Jack Welch and Tom Peters very proud).
According to Ad Age writer A. Louise Rubin: "Somewhere along the way, ad agencies and other communications companies started thinking less about the strategy and more about selling execution. Worse yet, they started to fill their staffs with people who were craftsmen and not strategists. The result: They begin to be viewed as laborers, not architects."
There must be plenty of sighs and moans after reading that (with, I'm sure, the occasional blurts of "bulls*$t, we do strategy!"). It's a hard pill to swallow but I think Ad Age gets it right. All too often agencies are primed to create the big wow without much thought about the real big idea. And by "big idea," I mean a long-term strategy. One that intrinsically has great execution at its core.
I've often stated that no one in their right mind would hire the post office to do their direct mail and the same can be said for having a web development company come up with your website's online strategy. Both of those companies are great at the execution and, all too often, very lacking (if they have any) in strategic value add.
In the end, Ad Age point to five key points. I'll tease you with the first:
"First acknowledge that strategy is what you are selling. Not an ad. Not a logo. Not a list of public relations tactics. These are only executions and that makes them commodities to be evaluated subjectively or worse yet, based on price of execution."
I hope that corporations choose agencies for their minds (strategy) not their bodies (execution). But we live in a superficial world and it would seem that agencies are allowing their books to be judged by their covers.
The Ad Age article can be viewed here: The Marketing Company Communications Disconnect - And Why Ad Agencies Are Viewed As Laborers Rather Than Architects.