Digital: A jumpstart for connections on the web
April 25, 2008

Others that know me and consider me the “techy girl”; more on a bronze/silver level than a gold. I can and do understand a lot of “webspeak” when it comes to working on the back-end of a website, know many interesting nooks and crannies on the web, and really I know how to find almost anything about anything.

This passion for the internet and all things in it has come from a basic understanding of how advertising on the web works from a metrics standpoint and a strategy standpoint. Once I understood that you can optimize on a media plan during a campaign, I was hooked.

With the realization that not understanding interactive advertising would mean “job obsoleteness” in the future, later came the epiphany that not knowing offline would accrue the same result. Hence agencies recently rolling back in their “interactive” departments into offline/online sitting in adjacent cubicles: MindShare Reveals Major Re-structuring.

In relevance to this blog about gaps in the industry and connections planning, the question of investigation is how, and if so why is connections planning alive on the web?

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Part 2: Generation Y agency competing with Boomers
April 7, 2008

We are groups of overlapping packets: we are ‘independents’ that can work together, but not always under the same roof.” -Carlos Casa

Carlos and I have been team mates in a project before. We were a part of a team that had to build, market and promote a product built for the iPod. We had to make a business plan and marketing plan, figure out prices, promotions-the works. So one year ago when Carlos announced that he and his brother were going to launch their new advertising agency, Azul & Green, I was not surprised.

Although Carlos has some involvement building a business and an idea of the advertising business, he had to build A&G from scratch, learning how to run, pitch, innovate, and keep business himself. Today, A&G is made of four people: Engelbert, Carlos, Allen, and Shiann. Engelbert handles mostly the day to day operations as well as the buying for the business and clients. Allen is their creative that has some industry experience. Shian and Carlos are more of the account planner roles: researching, talking with clients, helping creatives, etc.

“The difference now is that in the past, you had to have an office,” says Carlos.

A&G is based out of the Casas’ home, but each employee working wherever they please. They come together when they need everyone’s help, input or cooperation. They heavily rely on phone calls and e-mails to keep up to date on status and news.

Azul & Green is an agency that is relevant to one of Adbridge’s core discussions about generations and the industry. A&G is a Generation Y agency where it did not matter how much money they started with, they were going to make their own waves–and they have.

Azul & Green has more challenges but even more opportunities.

A&G is anything but short on great, innovative ideas for their clients-their challenges lie within the budgets. They might have a great idea for a billboard but the affordability of that vehicle compared to others makes it just out of reach. Carlos says they do quite a lot of collateral and newspaper within the Hispanic sector. “A lot of the time, Spanish speaking businesses will advertise in Spanish magazines and the creative will be all wrong.” Azul & Green is in a holding pattern at the moment until Carlos graduates. “We don’t mention that most of us at A&G have not graduated yet but only one client has asked and he was impressed.”

There has been opportunities and new windows opened to A&G that run horizontally to growing the agency including A&G Publishing services. The publishing division develops Spanish targeted educational posters for teachers; available via their website http://www.azulgreenpublishing.com

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What is Connections Planning?
April 2, 2008

Connections Planning was the jumping off point for Adbridge. Last spring, I had the opportunity to work with the Connections Planning Team at GSD&M here in Austin. Then in the fall, I went to the Connections Planning Conference hosted by Trumpet Brand Studio. Afterwards, I sat down with my media professor and had a conversation about Connections Planning, and what it meant for our discipline and industry. We committed to doing an independent study aimed to pinpoint the role of connections in the industry.

Our first task in the independent study was to do a white paper on Connections/360/Communications Planning. The four of us dove right into the research and realized the issue we want to address is bigger than a new discipline in an ad agency. Connections isn’t account planning for media, or media as the new creative. The real issue is the call for change in the advertising agency model. This refers back to Jennifer’s Post on the agency as a well-oiled machine. It functions efficiently, but not to its full creative potential.

To us, Connections Planning is simply a mindset and a way of looking at agency structure and strategy. It is an agency model where egos are checked at the doors, and the people are inspired by collaboration and working in teams. The right idea for a campaign can come from any department. Many of the agency interviews to come will represent the ways Connections has manifested itself in agencies today.

So this is what we think…what do you think? Is this a new discipline, another layer added to our system of strategy or a band-aid to the much bigger problem in agencies today.

Assembly lines for advertising are oiled by the people who like structure in an industry that is supposed to be about change.
March 18, 2008

http://honors.rit.edu/amitraywiki/images/8/8f/Assembly.jpg

1) Agencies in the advertising industry have become strictly structured producers.

Ideas are divided into parts with media, creative, account services/planning taking a piece. Communication between each group occurs only when they need to, telling each other just what they need to know to do their job and complete their work. What often lacks in this communication is explaining the reasoning, the vision, and the conceptual thought behind the decisions.

2) Advertising Campaigns are completed in a linear process, because it’s efficient

The overall advertising campaign is completed in one of two ways, both a linear state-of-mind. The first linear state is when a percentage of the work is completed by one department and then passed along to the next; thinly building on the previous portion. Even worse, as mentioned before, is the second linear state where work is completed, with a lack of communication between, at the same time with limited intersections with other tools.

3) If you have ever worked in agencies that seem to use a lot of the same tools over and over again, and you find it odd that they seem stuck in their ways—they might suffer from ‘Assemblage’.

The physical and intellectual separation by departmentalization and using tools that people are comfortable with using have made advertising an assembly line: ‘Get the work done in the quickest way possible’—instead of a way of thinking or procedure that has the most optimization for the client. The ‘assembly line’ method affects agencies by creating a system that produces similar work for different clients. ‘Do what is familiar, do what is easy and get it out the door.’

4) There is only ownership of work and no ownership of thought.

Not to say that the day to day operations of dealing with representatives of print and broadcast companies do not take a talent, professional intellect and instinct, but when the actual strategy for the client is left to a very small amount of people, from the outside perspective—everyone else is just filling out the paperwork.

5) We need to talk. We need to exchange. We need to drop the assembly line attitude.

People can be so concerned with getting the work out so efficiently that they form a structure, which restricts the flow of ideas, the development of ideas and makes it quite difficult to get your thinking outside of the box—because they do not have time to get out.

Sources:

“The Marketing Company Communications Disconnect: And Why Ad Agencies Are Viewed as Laborers Rather Than Architects”

By A. Louis Rubin, Advertising Age
Published: June 06, 2005

Commentary by A. Louis Rubin
It’s the sad truth that no one in the communications business wants to acknowledge or admit but the bottom line is that few communications professionals are invited into the inner sanctorum of marketers’ strategy and planning sessions on the executive committee level.