Rob Morgan: Creative agencies? Rubbish, we're advertising agencies

Robert Morgan
By Robert Morgan | 16 September 2014

In the years since media was unbundled from advertising agencies late last century, gradually advertising agencies became ‘creative agencies’ as media departments became ‘media agencies’.

Somehow it was felt that advertising agencies no longer existed. There were some who were glad we were now ‘creative agencies’. It gave agencies that had no interest in creativity, camouflage. And, muddied the waters for those that were truly creative.

More importantly, it positions us wrongly. We exist because we do campaigns that sell things for clients. We use creativity to create relationships with consumers, build loyalty and create profits for our clients. Creativity is a means not an ends.

Calling us creative agencies makes us sound like we are only interested in creativity for creativity’s sake. Like an arts company.

It also confirms suspicions in many clients’ minds that we are only interested in awards for our own sake. And that creativity has no real relationship to selling. This is one reason why our industry is not given the credit it’s due nor the remuneration to which we are entitled. ‘The best work, works best’, is what we should be telling the world.

Media agencies are perfectly entitled to use that term because that’s what they are. They plan and buy media to promote products and brands. No argument.

But, we advertising makers, creators and producers must go back to being called advertising agencies. Because that’s what we do. Whether it’s a social, digital, television, press or experiential campaigns and as is more likely these days, all of these – it's advertising.

Indeed, our future will be linked inextricably to our ability to create reasons for people to engage with brands and brand narratives/stories. We will increasingly be using creativity to attract, entertain and engage consumers, but most importantly to sell to them.

Entertainment is not an end in itself. But, a means of attracting attention and then we sell the brand.

Mentions on Twitter, YouTube views, likes on Facebook or popularity on TV doesn’t mean anything unless it sells the brand. So creativity has to be matched with business accountability.

Let’s go back to the future and behave like advertising agencies and be proud of it.

And, when you go to a party and are asked what you do, I bet you say you work in advertising, not you work for a creative agency. Case closed.

Robert Morgan
Executive Chairman
Clemenger Group

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