From the pulpit

Issue 26 | March 2013

In this issue we have campaigns from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the UAE, the UK and the USA.

As is increasingly the case, much good work has been omitted. This is because we had 126 submissions, so only the very good stuff got through the editorial committee.

In this instance, the committee was given extra gravitas by having Jason Andrews with us. Jason is the Executive Creative Director of Rapp London and has had a luminous career including a couple of years as co-founder of a tech start-up.

If your work didn’t make the cut, please don’t be disheartened. When we started Directory six years ago it was with the deliberate intention of trying to help raise the standards of creative work across the category. In fact, we were even going to call the magazine Benchmark until a late search revealed that the name had already been registered.

In the six years we’ve been going,  Direct has become a complex, multi-channelled discipline in its own right. It is the category in which there are the most innovations as creative people find new ways to engage with their brands’ customers in new places.

In this issue, for instance, Artplan in Brazil have found yet another way to blur the distinction between the virtual and real worlds (p.xx to xx).

Famous in Brussels have created cat roulette and saved the lives of hundreds of abandoned pets.

And in India, Grey Digital have turned YouTube into a personalised response medium for the launch of the VW Jetta.

For me, though, perhaps the most significant campaign we’ve featured is Cundari’s ‘Pain Squad’ app (pages xx-xx). Created to help children receiving treatment for cancer, it is a great example of clever tecchy people in ad agencies inventing products and services which can improve lives.

It’s one thing to understand technology but quite another to be able to have ideas that exploit it in new ways. This, I think, is where agencies can become creative business partners with their clients, not so much through helping them with what their brands say but with what their brands do.

Let’s talk money

On the subjects of how brands communicate, agencies sometimes forget that they are brands too.

Directory is a small business and as its editor, I rely on consultancy work and freelance to help keep my wife, two children, three dogs, cat and horse in conditions of relative comfort.

Cashflow is critical. And we are not helped by some agencies, who are shockingly slow to pay us. It seems that because our invoices are relatively insignificant to them (though not to us!), we get treated with contempt.

Take Ogilvy. We submitted an invoice to the agency for a paltry £350 and had it returned to us after 90 days with a message to say we needed a PO number. It took 180 days for settlement. But when Ogilvy invoiced us for £2,000, they started hassling us after eight weeks.

In fact, our only bad debt in the last six years is an Ogilvy invoice they have simply never paid.

Elsewhere in adland, we have an invoice at M&C Saatchi which is seven months unpaid. And we once had to start proceedings against Gyro HRS to get the money we were owed.  

Every freelancer and consultant will have similar stories and often about the same agencies.

It is a form of bullying, in which the most vulnerable people in our industry are victimised. And those agencies which now maintain 90-day and even 120-day terms are signalling, ironically, not that they are fiscally competent but that they must be financially insecure.

On the other side of the coin, BBDO always pay in under a month.

As a brand, we tend to think of BBDO as the Rolls-Royce of agencies. As you will see from The Won Report on pages xx – xx, not only is BBDO the No.1 network in the world for creativity, BBDO agencies rank 1st, 2nd and 9th in the Top 10 Direct agencies.

The fact they also honour their small suppliers simply confirms their class.


At one stage, we were going to run a special feature in this issue about agency Christmas cards.

They can provide agencies with a terrific opportunity to showcase their skills and in some instances have led directly to significant new business wins.

(Tequila Auckland’s ‘Snowman’ idea led to ‘an unexpected ROI of over 1,100%, and Rosetta’s brilliant ‘Snowday’ in 2009 is alleged to have led to several pitches.)

That said, while we are very grateful to everyone who did send us cards this Christmas, we weren’t at all sure there were any gems. Our own was pretty uninspired.

However, honourable mentions to:

Proximity London for ‘Snow Loco’, a fun interactive video of a model train choo-chooing its way through the agency. There are visual cues in the film of events in the preceding year. Identify them all to win a prize.

Rapp Tribal for ‘Believe in Santa’. Clients were sent a DVD on which they could see their Account Director under hypnosis being persuaded to believe in Father Christmas. Then they were sent the hypnotist!

Ogilvy Melbourne’s “Gift that keeps on giving”. 1,200 Christmas puddings were mailed out, packaged in a reversible box with sticker labels so you could then transform it into a thoughtful present for someone else. 

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