Bass hits back at Ritson: 'Who the F are you to call our industry idiots, liars and thieves?'

IPG CEO Danny Bass
By IPG CEO Danny Bass | 3 June 2016
Danny Bass

Mark Ritson presented the first in a series of seminars in partnership with the AANA and MCN last week - and he made some controversial points. You can watch the video in full here or below to see what Danny Bass is responding to.

OK Mark. I’ll bite… 

The Guardian, Morrissey, The Gallaghers, Emiline Pankhurst, The Tolpuddle martyrs … the list goes on. Passionate, influential and opinionated Northeners from Blighty. It’s one of our finest exports.

I watched the video in various parts throughout yesterday and it’s clear you join that list. Firstly kudos for a very entertaining hour. Not since Bernard Manning (Australians may have to Google – definitely NSFW ) strode the stage have I heard a Northerner swear so much in front of an audience of professional people. 

I watched it through, thought it very entertaining with some very interesting points raised. But later I started thinking about it more and something nagged away in my mind… and I realised what it was – and to use your terminology - who the f*** are you to call our industry idiots, liars, thieves and a lot more?

You know you’re talking about people who work so hard every single day, from the youngsters getting started through to investment teams who have forgotten more about creating media effectiveness than you will ever know.

To be honest I’m not sure what I was more pissed off about – your comments or the realisation that as an industry we’ve become so used to criticism we don’t fight back. You called a room full of execs f****** idiots and no one challenged you. (shakes head)

Ever tried that in a pub back home?

I get it – academia isn’t known for its high salaries and everyone has to hussle for a dollar these days. So; controversial presentation, check; great free coverage check - hoping that someone will bite. Well, here I am - and I get the irony in responding.

I have to say I thought the first 20 minutes or so was interesting, highly entertaining and gave me food for thought. Which was brilliant - if it had been presented four years ago that is.

Out of curiosity how often do you think a client brings up in conversation their Facebook page, Twitter profile or Instagram account as their number one priority, as you seem to feel happens all the time.

And why do you think, even if they did, that would change their spend patterns across other media? We speak to clients every single day in the real world, not a theoretical one, where every dollar investment we make, across all media channels, is reported, optimised, analysed, assessed for its effectiveness and then we start the process again. Every dollar has to work harder now that it’s ever done before.

It’s not for me to speak for my competitors but I’m pretty sure they would follow the same process, because you know what? If they didn’t they wouldn’t be around for long.

We live in a world of continual test and learn.

Maybe I’m missing the point, but linking the effectiveness of social to whether consumers engage with a brand’s social media profile is a very, very long bow.

Out of interest why did you not mention the effectiveness of search, which has really been the catalyst for a lot of traditional dollars moving to ‘digital'? Didn’t fit the narrative?

You raise some very, very valid points, especially around what constitutes a view. Universal measurement for screens viewing is essential. No media channel should take priority over another because it’s a hot new thing – I 100% agree on all that.

There’s no question money (in some cases) has moved too fast out of TV, and print (great case study BTW) but that’s as much on those channels as anyone else to address the imbalance.

You talk about our obsession with millennialls. Mate, after hearing you go on about them I’m not sure it’s us who has the obsession. I suppose teaching for 20 years may give you an axe to grind. Yes, they come up in conversation. Yes, clients are interested to know what their media habits are, of course they are, marketers should be forever curious. But does it alter spends? Not in the slightest.

One last question - if social media is so insignificant and meaningless why the bit at the end showing your little fight on Twitter? Did that make you feel better?

You make a big deal about ‘if you say something enough people will believe it’ well you know what, if we let someone like you spout your crap about this industry in forums like this enough times, well that could become the norm too.

To be clear I’m not here to defend digital over any other medium. Zero base planning happened a lot longer ago than you think. Everyone now needs to fight for their share of the budget alongside everyone else. Everyone’s more than aware of Darwin's view on this.

But I am here to defend my colleagues and an industry that I’m proud to be a part of. I’m proud of the people I work alongside and the impact they have in making our clients’ lives easier and their work more effective. I’m proud to be part of an industry that helps drive the economy forward – and I’m proud to be in an industry that takes on every challenge that’s thrown at it and becomes stronger because of it.

So from one gobby Northerner to another – Are you avin a laff?… but I’ll still buy you a pint next time you’re in Sydney.

If you haven't already watched the presentation, watch it in full below:

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